Paul Forsyth wrote in "Hospitals struggle with ALC patients" (Niagara This Week, Jan.28, 2009):
"A new report adds weight to the argument by the Niagara Health System that people who have no business being in a hospital are clogging up chronic care beds, leading to a domino effect that leads to lengthy delays in getting treated at hospital emergency rooms.
A Canadian Institute for Health Information report released Jan. 15 backs up long-standing concerns by the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) about the serious impact of what’s known as alternate level of care (ALC) patients.
Those are patients such as people who have had strokes, the frail elderly, people with mental disorders, and people with respiratory and circulatory problems.
Hospital officials say those people end up turning to hospitals because of a chronic shortage of long-term care beds in the community or inadequate home care services.
“Without question, the single biggest challenge facing Ontario hospitals is the number of ALC patients waiting in hospitals for alternate levels of care,” said Tom Closson, president of the hospital association.
The report showed that Ontario tied with Newfoundland for the highest rate of ALC patients in hospitals, with seven per cent of hospitalizations comprised of people in that group.
Nation-wide, excluding Manitoba and Quebec, ALC patients accounted for five per cent of hospitalizations and 14 per cent of hospital days in 2007-2008, the report found.
Niagara is particularly hard hit by ALC patients, said Sue Matthews, vice-president of patient services and chief nursing executive for the Niagara Health System. On average, 35 per cent of NHS beds are taken up by ALC patients, the highest in Ontario and twice the provincial average, she said.
That creates a domino effect of lengthy delays at hospital emergency rooms because people lying on stretchers are forced to wait for beds to become available.
It also has the impact of forcing Niagara Emergency Medical Services (EMS) paramedics to queue up at emergency departments, waiting to offload patients in their care. EMS staff reported recently that it’s not uncommon for only a handful of the fleet of 22 Niagara ambulances mobilized at peak periods to be available to respond to medical emergencies because of those delays.
In a statement responding to the new report, the OHA said it continues to call for “major investments” in health services out of hospitals, and for interim solutions to help hospitals bridge the capacity gap until the longer-term investments begin to chip away at the ALC patient dilemma.
Matthews said the NHS isn’t sitting on its hands awaiting those investments: the system has taken a number of steps to reduce the impact of ALC patients, such as changes to the St. Catharines General hospital emergency department — the busiest in Niagara — including a new clinical systems investigations unit. That unit uses special, dedicated stretchers to ensure the most serious cases get prompt treatment and wait for results of tests in a dedicated waiting room, freeing up stretchers in the emergency room."
Once again, not a word in this news report from, or about, the local Liberal health-care monopolist, MPP Jim Bradley, and his government's failed, duplicitous role in dealing with this on-going problem. 'Flicking' unbelievable.
Once again, this situation is not new, and it's not anecdotal, the way Liberals would like us to believe. (see: Niagara health-care 'top news story of 2008' - yet no mention of Liberal Jim Bradley: see: Time to debunk Liberal health-care myths)
Dalton McGuinty himself several years ago dismissed recommendations to add extra beds to Niagara's ER's, and to deal with the concurrent ALC shortage. I guess having an average of 35% of Niagara's hospital beds occupied by ALC-level patients - twice the Ontario provincial average - isn't enough to get ideolgically-retarded bait-and-switch-health-care-monopolists such as Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty, or his willing co-conspirators, such as Health Minister David Caplan, or Jim Bradley, to get off their negligent asses and deal with their health-monopoly's systemic problems, which for five years they have ignored and exacerbated.
These Liberal politicians should be charged for their health-care crimes.
It's an ironic laugh that the NHS is lecturing us (in "Niagara health officials peeved by protest in Fort Erie", St. Catharines Standard, Jan.28, 2009) that they "cannot, and will not, condone any breach of the law... and will not tolerate any danger to public safety" when it comes to protests against their Liberal-approved bait-and-switch health-care policies. (this was in regards to the protesters in Fort Erie who last week craned and chained a large lock up over the large 'H' sign on the wall of Douglas Memorial Hospital, where the Liberals, through their appointed LHIN lackeys, are closing the emergency dept., shutting down operating rooms, and cutting inpatient beds). Caroline Bourque-Wiley, former St.Catharines Standard reporter and now NHS spokesperson, confirmed the Niagara Hospital System's press release which mentioned that the police are investigating these "acts of vandalism and trespass" and that the NHS was concerned with "liability and insurance issues while people are on our properties" - yeah, I guess they should be - if a protestor did get hurt, at least for now there is still an emergency room in Fort Erie!! But when the Liberal 's bait-and-switch health-care system closes the ER, it's off to St. Catharines or Buffalo for patients - which is the point of the protest. Ironic.
Yet, why isn't any police organization investigating the Dalton McGuinty government's Liberal Healthcare Duplicity and its failing, dangerously ineffective, heavy-handed, ideologically-driven health-monopoly? What "liability" do these Liberal health-care vandals assume? What accountability do they have? Why, they're held harmless from negligence for the blowback of their health monopoly's actions!!
Liberal hypocrites have lied about and underfunded their monopolistic health-care obligations for years, while concurrently preventing patients from being able to pay for their own care. McGuinty's Liberals are the 'danger to public safety'.
Secretive Liberals won't even allow Ontario's Ombudsman access to independently investigate and scrutinize their health-monopoly's claims, purposefully making it difficult to quantify or clearly assess the efficacy of Liberal political rhetoric, or the claimed effectiveness of Liberal policies, as they are translated into practice at the patient level. We're just supposed to believe McGuinty and his clique when they whistle Don't worry, be happy to us, mesmerizing us with their 'just trust us' Liberal bullshit.
But we will unfathomably tolerate these political bags of crap because they're Liberals. And shamefully, the don't ask/don't tell lefty-besotted local press, once again, kisses Jim Bradley's ass without question, allowing him and his Liberals to figuratively get away with murder.