MHC under ‘crisis’ designation for patients waiting for LTC bed

MANITOULIN—With both sites of the Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) being near or at full capacity in its inpatient units, a ‘crisis’ designation for patients waiting in hospital for long-term care placement, came into effect as of January 24, 2022. This designation was specifically prompted by inpatients awaiting long-term care placements. The crisis designation is determined by the Ontario Health Home and Community Care.

“In recent weeks, both sites of MHC have been near or at full capacity in our inpatient units,” confirmed Paula Ferguson, nurse manager of MHC last Friday. “Our higher-than-usual occupancy rates are partially related to some patients waiting long periods of time to move to long-term care facilities. You may have also heard the term ‘alternate level of care (ALC)’ used in relation to these patients. Patients with an ALC designation in hospital are no longer in need of the acute care services that the hospital typically provides.”

Ms. Ferguson explained, “this situation reduces the availability of acute care beds to meet the needs of our communities and can have a ripple effect on other services. There have been times where admitted patients have been held in the emergency room (ER), until a bed has become available for them on the inpatient unit. This reduces the number of care areas to treat patients in the ER, and in turn this increases the length of time some patients may have to wait to be seen. It also impacts our ability to return patients from Health Sciences North or other facilities to continue their recovery closer to home.”

“The purpose of the (crisis) designation is to increase the priority of long-term care admission to patients waiting in hospital to create bed capacity at the hospital,” said Ms. Ferguson. “Crisis designation does change the process for patients and families in that they are now required to apply to five different long-term care homes. (Previously, people were required to apply to three such facilities). This means that, initially, patients may be admitted to a long-term care facility that was not their first choice. With only three long-term care facilities on the Island, we recognize that this is a very difficult and emotional process for patients and families.”