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Dalton McGunity Liberals shutting 181 hospital beds in Hamilton and Niagara

The McGuinty government flak catchers at the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN just keep at it.

Not satisfied with all the (negative) attention they received for effectively shutting down the hospitals in Fort Erie and Port Colbourne, they are now in the midst of shutting down 181 complex continuing care beds across the LHIN.

The Hamilton Spectator reports today that between "December and May, area hospitals closed 123 of 809 beds used to treat the dying, patients with multiple complex conditions, seniors with dementia and those needing restorative care to get home. " The plan is to close a further 58 beds by April 2012.

"We've been able to reduce the number of beds without reducing access to service because the CCAC (Community Care Access Centre) is now taking care of these individuals in the community said Alan Iskiw, LHIN interim CEO.

This does not sit well with widespread reports that the CCACs (which oversee home care) are cutting services to deal with their own financial problems.

Agreements with the McGuinty government which forecast a significant funding increase for the CCACs this fiscal year have disappeared into the void. And now the most recent agreement (page 20) on the LHIN web site will only say that CCAC funding is "TBD' -- to be determined. (We are over five months into the fiscal year.)

The bed cuts are supposed to reduce the Hamilton Health Sciences hospital deficit. Of course.

But the Spec also notes that 60 beds for "assessment and rehabilitation" have been temporarily opened up to help deal with the cuts. One St. Joseph's hospital leader even had the guts to raise some questions:

St. Joseph's isn't convinced it will save any money as a further six beds close because so many more services will be needed to get patients out of complex care in a quarter of the time it takes or less. "It's a big shift," said Winnie Doyle, vice-president of clinical programs. "For some patients, it will be a very good thing. We do have some patients that I think it will be a challenge."

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