Do you find that you are having to wait longer and longer for surgery in Ontario? When you have had a procedure or are in hospital for another reason, do you find that you are being discharged faster than in the past?
Well, both of these are true and are symptoms of the increasing issue of overcrowding in Ontario’s hospital system. Part of the issue is population growth, particularly among senior citizens. As the province’s continuing care system is already strained to the limit, there can be long wait times before such beds become available. This means that seniors in fragile health with nowhere to go end up remaining in hospitals longer. That reduces the number of acute care beds available to other members of the public.
The need to free up beds can make hospitals seem particularly uncaring, as illustrated by this recent case in Toronto. Frail elderly people need attention and care that the overburdened health system is not managing to provide for them.
Over the period running from 2012 through the present, seven Ontario hospitals routinely had occupancy rates over 100%. This results in patients being put into hallways and other areas not generally used for care. The result is undue stress for these individuals and a lower quality of care due to overburdened doctors and nurses.
After being the victims of budget cuts for a number of years, Ontario’s hospitals are badly in need of additional funding. How to make the provincial government come through with this badly needed cash is the question. One strategy the government has proposed is to put seniors into private retirement homes, in order to make more hospital beds available.
This would be done at no cost to the patients. The price would actually be lower for the province and such accommodation would be better for the patients’ mental health. Still, the best situation would be to provide our health care system with the money it needs to improve efficiency and effectiveness for everyone.