Hospital bed shortage causes long wait times at hospital

To the Expositor:

The emergency department (ED) of Health Sciences North has been in the news almost daily since Dr. Rob Lepage’s letter was published in the Sudbury Star in March. Last week it was Dr. Chris Bourdon, Chief of Staff at Health Sciences North. The average wait time is now over 19 hours for the seriously ill. This is the fourth worst performing ED in the province.

Why is this happening?

There are no hospital beds for newly admitted patients. Sometimes admitted patients end up in a nursing unit specializing in another area of care. Sometimes they end up in a TV room. Most often, they just stay in the ED, sometimes for days, with patients on stretchers in hallways. Then the new arrivals in ED face the long wait times for assessment because there is just no space to properly examine them. The nurses and physicians involved are devastated. They feel responsible for the welfare of their patients.

Between our hospital, the North East Local Health Integration Network and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, we have seen the introduction of a long list of initiatives in the last three years. The Ontario government’s plans for a focus on primary and home care initiatives are commendable. The intent is to keep folks healthy and out of hospital.

The problem is one of timing. What if things in ED continue to worsen next month and the month thereafter? The patients, their families and staff feel that they have been abandoned. We need to share their pain. We must find short-term solutions now.

Dr. Peter Zalan,

president of medical staff, Health Sciences North