2/19/11

Very ill patient stuck in US hospital - no hospital beds in Toronto

Oh brother -- it's worse than I thought.  
The Toronto Star reports that for more than two months, a Woodbridge woman has been keeping vigil by her husband’s bedside in a U.S. hospital while trying to get him moved back home.But Kokila Joshi is being told by hospital after hospital in the GTA that there are no beds here. 
The hospitals accept that there’s a problem, saying the flu season has overwhelmed their already strained capacity. But so far nobody has been able to do anything about Joshi’s plight.
Bipinderoy Joshi, 67, suffered a cardiac arrest while on vacation in St. Louis, Missouri on Dec. 8. He has been in the SSM St. Joseph Health Center ever since.
“If we had a bed available to safely accommodate this patient, we would do so,” said York Central hospital spokesperson Elizabeth Barnett. 
"This flu season has overwhelmed hospitals and we have to take our patients who are in the emerg first,” said Scarborough Hospital spokesperson Tracy Huffman.
“The challenge is our ICU beds are very full . . . There is not a lot of surge capacity within the whole system and that is a challenge,” said Dr. Ian Fraser, chief of staff at Toronto East General Hospital.
As for the provincial government? They are of little help:“We are relieved that he does have some private insurance that he is able to rely on . . . but as far as critical care capacity and those types of things, it is difficult for us to do anything,” said health ministry spokesman Andrew Morrison.
Lucky for Joshi, his private insurance provider is picking up the costs (which are probably very large) for his stay at the US hospital.
In desperation, Kokila has even sent a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty, pleading for help: “Please kindly look into this case and find an ICU bed for my husband. We are away from my work, my family and my home.”
We have to lower the outrageously high bed occupancy at Ontario hospitals. Here's a start: funding must be set at adequate levels and the 600 hospital bed closures over the last year should be reversed.
dallan@cupe.ca

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