Life in one of the city’s busiest Emergency Departments

Dr. Bhaskar Gopalan completed a residency placement in the Emergency Department at Queensway Carleton Hospital in 2006 and knew it was the place for him. “I fell in love with it – the culture, the people, and the supportive nursing staff.” And, of course, that surge of adrenaline. He joined the team a year later and became Chief in 2015.

“You have no idea what is coming next,” he explains. “Each patient is unique and needs to be treated that way. I love the complexity of the cases and working with like-minded professionals who value the benefit of teamwork.”

That teamwork is more important than ever considering the changes Dr. Gopalan has seen in the last decade. “We’re no longer a small community hospital,” he says.

“We’re a regional leader with one of the busiest Emergency departments in the region. Back in 2007, our team cared for 180 patients each day. That number has risen to 230 patients each day – or more than 80,000 visits each year.”

Patient care needs are also changing. “We are serving a bigger area with a fast-growing population. Elderly patients can have more complex issues with multiple medications and health concerns. About a third of them will be admitted to QCH.”

To ensure the very best care, QCH is adapting too. Our recent ED 1,2,3 Project looked at every process to see how thing could be improved. New medical directives are helping to streamline care as soon as patients arrive. For example, patients may have immediate blood work, urine analysis or heart tests. A new tool with built in business intelligence standardizes the triage process to ensure the sickest patients are seen first, improving patient safety. And the addition of a second emergency physician overnight has also improved patient flow.

“The Emergency Department is the first line of health care,” says Dr. Gopalan. “If you walk in, you will see everyone working 120%.” These changes will help physicians get essential information faster, resulting in more rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Gopalan says that solving those patient problems is what drives him every day. “Recently, a colleague shared a letter he received from an elderly patient who had arrived in the ER very ill. She went into cardiac arrest and the whole team helped to save her. One month later, she said she wanted to meet all the health care providers who had looked after her to say thank you. That’s very rewarding, and that is why we do what we do.”