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ALC hospital beds: Is Ontario making any progress?

In November 2007, there were 4,528 "ALC "or alternative level of care patients (i.e. patients waiting for a different sort of care while they are in a hospital bed, usually long term care, hospital rehabilitation care, hospital complex continuing care, or, in some cases, home care).  By April 2011 there were 4,256, a decline of 6%, or 272 patients (although there was also a decline in the number of hospital beds reported ).

The decline is significant but quite modest.  Especially when you consider that the numbers did not always decline over that period.  The numbers dipped each spring since 2007 and rose at other times. Only a few months previous to April 2011, the ALC count was much higher:: 4,748 in January 2011. That's 220 more than November 2007, a 4.9% increase.   And from November 2007 to November 2010, the number of ALC patients increased 111, or 2.5%

So there are legitimate questions about the government's main ALC strategy -- Aging at Home, which was announced August 2007.  Which is not to say that the projects funded by Aging at Home are a waste.  Certainly, some things sound like they make sense:  the 'Home First' strategy started last summer which provides enhanced home care services (up to six hours a day) for the first 60 days after patient leaves a hospital for one.  The modest expansion of hospital rehabilitation services announced by the Central LHIN for another.

But much more needs to be done if we are going to reduce the health care rationing that is at the heart of making people wait for services.

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