Bed blockers still there

TheStar.com – Opinion/Editorial
Published On Tue Jun 08 2010.
One hundred and five days. That is the average wait time in Ontario for access to a long-term care facility, according to a report last week by thee Ontario Health Quality Council, an independent, government-funded advisory panel. And one in every six beds in the province’s acute-care hospitals is occupied by patients just waiting to be transferred to a nursing home. These “bed blockers” create logjams in emergency wards and delays in surgery.

Furthermore, says the council, the problem is getting worse, not better, despite the expenditure of hundreds of millions by successive Conservative and Liberal governments to create more nursing home spaces. The wait time for entry to a nursing home today is three times longer than it was five years ago.

The council suggests that Ontario adopt a model that has proven successful in Lethbridge, Alta., where supportive housing is available for seniors who require less care than is provided by a full-fledged nursing home. Some hospitals in Ontario—the council’s report mentions Trillium Health Centre and Credit Valley in Mississauga and North York General—have also introduced procedures to help patients move through the health-care system, thereby reducing backlogs and wait times.

“It’s important for boards and CEOs to be asking some hard questions,” says Dr. Ben Chan, CEO of the council. “If some places in Ontario have achieved major improvements in wait times or quality, then why can’t they do the same? If there are great ideas for improvement, then why aren’t we adopting all of them, all the time?”

These are good questions. They need answers.

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