Forcing hospital patients down the highway and into a retirement home. This is the solution?

The proposed medium term remedy for the Windsor Essex hospital bed crisis is to open 62 interim long term care beds at a Leamington retirement home next month. The Leamington Court home is reportedly part of Allegro Residences, which, in turn, is part of the Maestro Group, which is based in Montreal and operates residences across the country with a staff of 2,500.  

This, of course, raises the issue of shipping public hospital patients off to retirement homes -- homes which are overwhelmingly run on a for-profit basis.  Serious questions have been raised about the quality of care for hospital patients at retirement homes.

And in Windsor, doubt is also being raised about the wisdom of shipping hospital patients miles away.  Any forced movement of hospital patients can have a serious health impact. But there is also concern that shipping Windsor seniors miles down the road to Leamington will leave them isolated from their loved ones and put more strain on families.

"I think this will be a lot of trouble for people from Windsor. If they only have an elderly spouse and no family members to drive the spouse back and forth, how will they visit?" said David Wonham, a retired physician who's working with Windsor Regional Hospital as an adviser. "It's very distressing to me."

Patients who don't accept the first available "LTC" bed will face a $600-per-day fee to remain at the hospital.

The LHIN CEO, Gary Switzer, has acknowledged the move will be difficult for some seniors and said the LHIN is looking into transportation arrangements for family members.

Another possibility is housing some seniors in Windsor Regional Hospital's new complex continuing care unit, which has room for 20 extra beds. But that would depend on funding from the province.


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