By Cecilia Nasmith
Because one patient left in the hallway is too many, Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini said Monday, the provincial government has announced a quarter-million dollars in funding to add four beds to Northumberland Hills Hospital for flu season.
Hospital president and chief executive officer Linda Davis said this meant extra capacity for this seasonal surge through the end of March.
Piccini said a similar announcement is planned for Campbellford Memorial Hospital, and this initiative is part of $90-million in new funding the government has allocated to allow 1,100 additional beds throughout Ontario, Looking ahead, he added, there is also the recently announced commitment to 6,000 new long-term-care beds throughout the province, growing to 15,000 within five years.
“This will provide a very welcome support to NHH, to patients we are currently serving,” Davis responded.
“We are seeing more patients coming into our system as the flu season advances, and this will help us cover the cost of the beds we have already opened to meet this patient need.”
Davis added, however, that patient surge is not a flu-season phenomenon but a year-round reality in a community where one in five members of the catchment population is over the age of 65. And this demographic adds to the ALC phenomenon – the Alternative Level of Care patient who no longer requires acute-level care but cannot be discharged unless and until appropriate supports are in place and, in the meantime, who continues to occupy a bed and require the resources and services that might otherwise be more readily available for new acute-care patients.
“Right now, 30% of the available beds in our hospital are being used by patients who no longer require acute care – 20% are waiting for long-term care,” Davis said.
“This morning, 11 patients were sitting in our emergency department – in the hallway, unfortunately – waiting to be admitted to an inpatient bed. We do need to be able to increase the opportunity for these patients to move through our system much faster.
“This announcement is very welcome in the short term, but system-wide solutions are required to fix our system in the long term.”
“We know this is a multi-faceted problem and will require on-going communications and real innovative solutions, working with the hospital administration and staff and health-care providers – I want to stress, working with health-care providers – to ensure we are supporting them in providing for patient care,” Piccini pledged.