Stuart Cline is a London resident who was stuck in a hospital in Mexico. He was suffering from a brain bleed that was complicated by a heart condition and could not find an available bed in Ontario. The issue has been resolved and he has returned to Ontario and is getting care in a Saint Catharine’s hospital. However, we can use Cline’s misfortune as an opportunity to start conversations about getting the proper funding we need to have more beds available when there is an emergency.
XFM News spoke with London West MPP Peggy Sattler about the crisis in our health care system. She says “we know from information that has been released through freedom of information that hospitals in London and across the province have been running on an ongoing, regular basis at well over 100 per cent occupancy.” The international standard is 85 per cent. This would allow hospitals the ability to respond to emergencies like the Cline family’s or flu surges.
Sattler says that since 2014, the London Health Sciences Centre has lost 141 million dollars because of budget decisions that were made by the government. She adds that as a result, the hospital has laid off staff and has closed beds, making Ontario’s citizens unsure that they can get the proper health care they need. What would need to happen is for funding to be placed back into hospitals so that we don’t see hospitals using their emergency rooms as their primary care provider.
This issue is one that spreads across all of Ontario. Sattler shared some solutions, saying that the NDP’s have committed funding to hospitals to keep up with inflation. They have called for a moratorium “on any more lay offs of frontline workers until we have done a comprehensive study of what kinds of health care workers are needed and where they are needed.” They also suggest a universal pharamcare system. The goal would be to make medications more affordable so that people can maintain their health on their own rather than need resources from the acute care system. It would allow some of the attention and bed space to be focused on emergencies.
Sattler also touched on long term care as one of the reasons for capacity struggles. “There are many people who occupy hospital beds who really should be in other kinds of facilities. There are often seniors with dementia and other kinds of complex needs who are in hospital beds.” She adds that by placing them in a long term care facility, individuals would be able to have access to the special equipment that they need and care that caters to their specific needs. She does acknowledge, however, that that can be difficult when there are not enough homes to move them to.
XFM News took the opportunity to ask Sattler how the long term care inquiry has been going. While there have been no updates, she did say the NDP are committed to looking into the quality of care offered. “There is a huge need for additional long term care spaces, we also need to look at the staffing that’s available in long term care homes. We’ve been pushing for a legislated minimum standard of 4 hours per resident per day.” She adds that this inquiry allows the opportunity to look at the long term care system in a “big picture” way.
If the NDP forms government, Sattler says that they will “immediately broaden the scope of the inquiry and take a find and fix approach. As soon as we identify problems in the health care system we will act immediately to fix them rather than wait for a potentially two year inquiry to complete it’s work.”