Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday December 15, 2017
Overcrowded Ontario hospitals ‘on the brink,’ province warned
Overcrowding at Ontario hospitals has become so serious that the sector is “on the brink” of a “crisis,” warns its umbrella organization, using uncharacteristically alarming language.
Leaders from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) plan to go to Queen’s Park to plead their case for more funding on Thursday. They are seeking a 4.55 per cent increase in operating funding for 2018-19, according to their prebudget submission, an advanced copy of which has been obtained by the Star.
That amounts to an extra $815 million and would bring the sector’s total operating allocation for the next fiscal year to about $18.8 billion.
The organization’s submission to the province’s finance committee is titled “A Sector on the Brink: The Case for a Significant investment in Ontario’s Hospitals.” It states that patient occupancy at about half of the province’s 143 hospital corporations exceeded 100 per cent this past summer, normally a slower time of year for the sector. Occupancy at some hospitals was as high as 140 per cent while the international standard for safe occupancy is 85 per cent.
A section of the seven-page submission highlights the “warning signs of an imminent capacity crisis.” Among them: growing wait times, higher emergency department volumes, and infrastructure and equipment that is “run down, at the end of their life, or outdated.”
States the document: “Emergency departments, for example, are a critical barometer for how the health care system is functioning — and the warning alarm is sounding loudly.”
When wait times for the month of September are compared for the last seven years, they hit their highest level this year for patients admitted to hospitals through emergency departments. Ten per cent of patients waited about 32 hours before being moved to in-patient beds. (Source: Toronto Star)