10/14/10

Kenora hospital bed squeeze tightens. On transitional beds and home care.

Patients who no longer need medical or surgical beds (ALC patients) now occupy about half of the medical and surgical beds at the Lake of the Woods Hospital in Kenora, according to the Miner and News.

Despite a rapidly aging population, the provincial government is slowing the development of new nursing home beds across the province. Some new transitional beds are being established in nursing homes, retirement homes, hospitals, and other facilities around the province, but not in sufficient numbers to stop the back up of patients in hospitals. 

As a result, high bed occupancy constantly threatens the ability of the hospitals to treat new patients and provide adequate care. 

"We've been fortunate that there hasn't been as much (admittance) as we had last fall and winter," said Mark Balcaen, the hospital CEO. "We're coping but at any moment, things could change. All you need is a four or five person surge to be admitted tonight and we're back to the crisis we were in last spring."

The government's official strategy emphasizes moving ALC patients to home or community care.  Vice-president of nursing, Leslie Brown, however, questioned provincial assumptions over these alternative forms of care, suggesting that such services are under-resourced in Kenora.

"There's a new strategy called the Wait At Home Strategy that has a number of options in it," she said. "One of the problems in communities like ours and many communities in the Northwest is currently the resources in the community don't exist that support the Wait At Home strategy....A longer term strategy, waiting for that to happen in Kenora as more and more of our beds get filled with long term care patients is not going to work. What are we doing in the short term?"



dallan@cupe.ca

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