The long wait. If you’ve had to visit the Emergency Department of a hospital recently, there’s a good chance you’ve seen or experienced it yourself. It’s hard to be a patient waiting in a hallway, with no privacy and no easy way to ask for help, often for hours on end.
It takes an average of 30.4 hours for a patient to move from Emergency to the right hospital bed.
Ontario Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care
It’s obvious that hallways aren’t an appropriate place to provide nursing care. But it happens anyway, because of the bed shortage that is common in our hospitals. But that’s a misleading term. We’re not just short of beds, we’re short of care providers – skilled registered nurses, technicians, therapists, and all the others whose attention is essential to patients’ well-being.
Ontario ranks last in Canada for hospital beds per population.
Ontario Health Coalition
Staffing levels have a direct effect on hospital capacity, which refers to the number of patients a hospital can serve. Research says that hospitals should run at 85% capacity most of the time, so they have enough flexibility to deal with surges in demand, like a winter flu outbreak or sudden emergency. But Ontario’s hospitals are often running at 100% capacity – or above. There’s almost no flexibility in the system and that’s a huge risk, because the demand for care is growing.
“Hospital overcrowding has become the norm in Ontario.”
The Globe & Mail
Hospital staffing levels are one issue, but there are many more:
- It takes too long to access long-term care.
- Seniors in nursing homes need more direct care from registered nurses and others.
- Health-care services within the community, including home care, are falling short.
These shortcomings are having a huge ripple effect throughout the health-care system. They need to be addressed.