Health managers and politicians say changes must be made to the health system to avoid overcrowding and other problems that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Dr. Stewart Kennedy, Thunder Bay Regional Center for Health Sciences (CRSSTB), says the hospital cannot return to the level of ridership seen before the COVID-19 pandemic, as this poses a significant risk to health.
Dr. Stewart Kennedy is the physician in charge of the COVID-19 pandemic response team at CRSSTB.
According to him, the virus has highlighted the fact that the hospital can no longer function at 120%, as it had been for several years before the pandemic.
“The threat has always been there because we have already dealt with infectious disease protocols. But it has grown so much because of the contagiousness of this disease and the way it can overwhelm our health care resources, that is what we need to pay attention to.”
NDP MP for Nickel Belt and official opposition health critic France Gélinas agrees. “We’ve been sounding the alarm for years.”
“The large hospitals in the North are over 100% full most of the time. Wherever you can put a bed, you put one. ”
She notes that the Thunder Bay Hospital is currently 90% full, although non-emergency operations, postponed due to COVID-19, have not resumed at the same rate as before the pandemic.
According to her, hospitals should aim for an occupancy rate of 85%, to have room for maneuver in normal times. “Even before COVID-19, it was not safe. ”
“We need to review our mission, says Dr. Kennedy. Patients should be discharged more quickly by setting up outpatient health clinics. ”
“We have to change the way we operate “Insists Dr. Kennedy. He points out that other epidemics are to be expected.
“The hospital has a fragile clientele. You have to control the comings and goings and change the configuration of the corridors. ”
Dr. Kennedy admits that the changes will take years and will incur significant costs.
In Sudbury, Health Horizon North (HSN) CEO Dominic Giroux said the hospital was almost full on June 30.
“This is not a new problem. The situation will certainly continue to get worse, but we have short, medium and long term solutions. ”
HSN wants in particular increase the number of “unconventional” temporary beds at the Clarion Hotel until March 31, according to the proposal made to the government.
This would allow the hospital to speed up the resumption of non-emergency operations.
Giroux also said that the government must quickly approve plans to expand the hospital’s capacity in the medium and long term.
A better home care system
According to France Gélinas, the first solution to limit the number of patients in hospitals is to improve home care.
“If we were able to provide the home care that people need, quality care, many people would not need to be hospitalized. ”
“With the deficient system that we have right now, the troubles start and the doctors don’t want to send patients home Added Ms. Gélinas.
Dominic Giroux also believes that investments in home care are essential.
Better access to primary care is also essential, says the MP. “Many Ontarians in the North do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner. ”
“And even if they have a [médecin de famille], it can take two, three, four weeks before having an appointment. ”
The official opposition at Queen’s Park also held a virtual summit on the transformation of long-term care and home care on Thursday.
“Many families mourn the loss of a loved one who died in a long-term care facility today “Said New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath in a statement.
“We cannot return to normal in long-term care. The system deprives too many people of their quality of life and makes them vulnerable to tragedies. ”
“While we are incredibly grateful to the healthcare workers who fought to save lives in a system devastated by COVID-19, we will never look back and never believe that Ontario won this battle. “, She adds.
Horwath noted that some major changes are not to be expected.
“We know that long-term care homes are severely understaffed and that front-line workers, such as attendants, are underpaid. Said Ms. Horwath.
“We urge this government to take urgent action now to increase the number of staff, to place social workers in full-time jobs with benefits, to invest in nutrition and to carry out more comprehensive inspections. ”
“Ford government could start it all tomorrow, making seniors’ lives better and safer now“Concludes the Leader of the Opposition.
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