29% of beds being occupied unnecessarily at SAH

2

Wait times, hallway medicine, offload delays why are they occurring?

In the first quarter of 2021, there were 20 times when there wasn’t an ambulance available to respond. Four Priority 4 Emergency calls were delayed and 141 Priority 3 Urgent calls were delayed according to quarterly reports provided to the District of Sault Ste. Marie Administration Board by Paramedic Chief Katie Kirkham.

The definition given in the report to DSSAB states the following.

No Ambulance Available = all staffed units are committed to service, none are able to respond IF needed

Ambulances line up to escort the chief home.

Priority Call Delayed = the occurrence of an ambulance being required for
an emergency response but no ambulance is available to be dispatched (Priority 4 or Priority 3).

According to statistics provided by Health Quality Ontario (HQO) is the provincial lead on the quality of health care. It takes an average of 2.6 hours to be seen by the Doctor in Sault Area Hospital Emergency Department in April of this year. If you were being admitted, you were likely to spend on average 16.5 hours waiting for a bed. Only 26% of those emergency room patients being admitted were done within the target of 8 hours.

Alternate level of care (ALC) refers to patients receiving care in a hospital who do not require the intensity of resources/services provided in a hospital care setting and are awaiting transfer to care in the community (community-based services, long-term care, home care, etc.),” – Brandy Sharp Young SAH Manager of Communications

So what is causing this issue, who is taking up the beds, and what is the solution?

We asked Brandy Sharp Young, Manager of Communications and Volunteer Resources at Sault Area Hospital. She noted this is a province-wide issue regarding Alternative Level of Care for patients as well as staffing and other challenges.

“Ontario hospitals are currently reporting significantly higher than usual wait times in the emergency department due to workforce challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as growing capacity challenges across the continuum-of-care,” said Sharp Young in a statement released last night to our organization.

Ontario’s North East Region LHIN – Province of Ontario

“As of May 31, 2022, Sault Area Hospital’s alternate level of care (ALC) rate is 29.3%; this equates to 61 patient cases. Alternate level of care (ALC) refers to patients receiving care in a hospital who do not require the intensity of resources/services provided in a hospital care setting and are awaiting transfer to care in the community (community-based services, long-term care, home care, etc.),” said Sharp Young.  “May’s ALC rate is SAH’s highest ALC rate over the past twelve months. Alternate Level of Care (ALC) rate refers to the percentage of inpatient days that beds were occupied by patients who could have been receiving care elsewhere.”

According to HQO, it took an average of 135 days for individuals waiting for Long-Term Care while in the hospital to be discharged in Ontario’s North-East region. That is 21 days longer than the average (114) across the rest of the province. The North East region district ranges from Parry Sound to North of Attawapiskat as far east as Kenora.

The struggle with Alternative Levels of Care is a problem identified over a decade ago by the Ontario Hospital Association. They held a round-table discussion in May of 2012 about this exact topic their report can be found here-

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In January of that year, a CBC article noted one long-term care patient in a Windsor Hospital had chosen to stay in the hospital instead of going to any of the community LTC homes available. Noting one person had chosen to stay in hospital for over two years instead of being transferred out.

Some of the issues identified in the OHA report from 2012- Ontario Hospital Association

Sharp-Young also noted some other struggles including fallout from the Pandemic and how SAH is working to deal with them.

“COVID-19 has had a profound impact on health human resources (HHR) across the health care system. In addition to the toll that the pandemic has taken on health care workers dealing with the pressures of responding to COVID-19, hospitals are currently reporting very high numbers of patients waiting for an alternate level of care (ALC) due to capacity challenges across the health care system, including long-term care and home care,” noted Sharp Young.

“Like hospitals across Ontario, SAH is being impacted by the broader health system’s capacity pressures which have a domino effect on wait times throughout the hospital as there are a finite number of beds in the system. Reduced staffing levels combined with the finite number of beds have led to higher wait times, ambulance offload times, and longer emergency room lengths of stay (for those waiting to be admitted).

Some of the issues identified in the OHA report from 2012- Ontario Hospital Association

SAH is working with our broader health care system partners to ensure that we have the resources and surge capacity needed to maintain access to care and respond to the needs of our community.”

With the average age of citizens in Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area going up as baby boomers age and other stresses on an already strained health care system, many warn of an imminent threat of collapse including sources inside the healthcare community.

What are the solutions and is it too late to implement them? Only time will tell.

Stay with SaultOnline as your source of news in Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area.

2 COMMENTS

  1. being one of those that can not trust our health system anymore by the decades of being used as a lab rat to test out there drugs on me from privately owned drug industry, this waiting crap at our hospital has been going on way before this pandemic hit? after hours of waiting in our hospital, 9 times out of 10 I end up leaving and just dealing with it on my own? they know i will not wait and panic after sitting in a small closed in room for hours? white coat syndrome is what they call it??? I have to sign a form first so they are not liable for medical failures of lack of help every time i had enough of waiting for them to just stand there confused in what type of help Is needed for me ? simply put in my thoughts on the way our hospital has been like for years, all doctors and nurses should be tested to see if they know how to do there job right to find and get rid of those that cheated from others to gain a passing grade that is causing people like me doubt in our health care system.

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