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Staffing and bed shortages are a source for concern in long term care: Riverside

Posted: October 6, 2022

(October 5, 2022)

By: Elisa Nguyen, Fort Frances Times

Riverside Health Care says that Bill 7 will have negligible impact on Rainycrest Long Term Care due to human resource challenges that require the home to operate at a reduced capacity of 122 beds, and that staffing shortages are the cause for major concern.

Effective on November 17, 2022, Bill 7: More Beds, Better Care Act enables placement coordinators to determine a patient’s eligibility for long term care, disclose personal patient information to the selected long term care home, and authorize admission to the long term care home—without consent from the patient or their substitute decision maker where reasonable effort has been made to obtain permission. Patients who are discharged from the hospital but choose to remain in hospital are charged a standardized daily fee of $400.

The Ontario Health Coalition immediately responded in outrage saying that it was an act of ageism against seniors and a violation of human rights.

“Ontario has the fewest hospital beds left of any province in Canada. The downsizing of Ontario’s hospitals is not “normal”. It is extreme, in fact the most extreme in the country. Now, patients – and specifically the frail elderly and those with chronic care needs – are being treated as though they are taking up resources wrongly.”

“This is ageist and immoral. Those patients have the same human rights as all patients. They are not “taking up” resources, they need care,” the Coalition shared in their press conference on September 15.

Many elderly residents in long term care facilities had died during the pandemic due to neglect and inadequate care as a result of understaffing.

The Coalition suggested that moving patients to long term care homes could be their last move, forcing the patients away from their family and into isolation during the last days of their life.

The Coalition challenged Ford government’s lack of funding toward hospital staffing and said that Bill 7 was an act that “violated the rights of mostly elderly patients to deal with the [staffing] crisis that they still are not addressing.”

In a public statement, Riverside Health Care shared that health human resource challenges at Rainycrest Long Term Care require the long term care facility to operate at a reduced capacity of 122 beds.

They noted that staffing challenges are the source of concern—at both the hospital and long term care home.

“LaVerendrye General Hospital in Fort Frances is also experiencing significant staffing challenges, a situation that is exacerbated by the increased admissions resulting from patients awaiting placement in long term care. The Emo Health Centre and Rainy River Health Centre that operate Eldcap (long term care) and acute care beds will also be impacted by Bill 7,” the statement read.

Henry Gauthier, president & CEO of Riverside Health Care, noted that there will be benefits to freeing up acute care beds in hospitals.

“While we certainly can understand the apprehension from the public regarding this change under Bill 7 and the deeply emotional affect on patients and their families, we also need to recognize the benefits that freeing up acute care beds will have on those awaiting admission from the emergency department, post surgical patients, those returning from our tertiary centre in Thunder Bay, and others.”

“At the point where Rainycrest is able to once again operate at full capacity we recognize that The More Beds, Better Care Act will help ensure hospitals and long-term care facilities are each caring for the right type of individual,” Gauthier said. “Patients awaiting long term care that remain in hospital are utilizing a bed and resources intended for acute care patients.”

He noted that in the last week of September, LaVerendrye General Hospital had 52 admitted patients, 10 of whom were awaiting long term care placement.

Julie Loveday, executive vice president and chief nursing executive, pointed out that “long term care homes are designed to provide essential activities of daily living to long term care residents that are not typically provided in hospital environments.”

Social, dining and recreational support are just a few examples of these activities, Loveday said.

Loveday also directed patients and substitute decision makers to Home and Community Care Support Services for further information on Bill 7.

Gauthier noted that “while Bill 7 will have a positive impact on the sustainability of the health care system, staffing shortages are currently the most significant challenge facing the health care system and Riverside Health Care.”

“Without enough nurses, personal support workers, food service workers and housekeeping staff, to name just a few, sustainability of both hospital and long-term care services remain at risk. Considerable effort is being expended by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Long-Term Care, Ontario Health, and both regional and local leadership to stabilize the current environment for the benefit of patients, residents, clients and our dedicated staff.”