It’s a story that’s growing more common, what started as a quick visit to the emergency room ended up taking much, much longer.
Nicole Dorssers was counting on hospital care for her brother, but overcrowding at the London Health Science Centre made it very challenging to get him the mental health help that he was desperately seeking.
“He just asked for help and it’s been a fight to get it, having to go to the hospital and justify the situation he is in,” said Dorssers.
“You go to the emergency room to say you have a mental health issue only to be turned around and have to come back with advocates so you can be properly heard. That indicates there’s a huge miss in the system.”
Dorssers experience only got worse. The family waiting in the emergency room for 16 hours only to have her brother being cared for in a hospital hallway for four days. She says that only made his condition worse.
“To wait and watch him deteriorate over four days waiting in the hallway. We’re a community here in London and we really need to advocate for the people in our community who are suffering. Seeing someone suffer and deteriorate while in care, that’s something we need to work on,” said Dorssers.
Leader of the provincial New Democrat Party Andrea Horwath says unfortunately Dorssers’ story isn’t exactly unique.
Data obtained by the NDP from the London Health Sciences Centre through a Freedom of Information request reveals that psychiatric bed occupancy rates was consistently over 130% from May 1 and Sept. 22, peaking at 165% on Aug. 22.
In late October, the Liberal government announced funding to create 1200 new hospital beds across the province, with nearly 50 at the London Health Sciences Centre including 24 dedicated to mental health care.
But Horwath says that’s a drop in the bucket and follows years of the provincial government ignoring these health care concerns. She says they would be doing things a little differently.
“We would look to immediately start funding the hospitals the way they’re suppose to be funded, to at least cover inflation, to cover population growth, and the unique needs of the communities they are in,” said Horwath.
She says they will also put a moratorium on layoffs and cuts on front line staff.
When ask how they would come up with the money for the funding, Horwath says it’s about putting the people first.
“It’s a matter of priority. We have a government that has spent more on themselves and their own political best interests than they have on the fundamentals people need.”
Numbers also show that medicine bed occupancy rates have hovered around 100%, only dipping below 90% for one day since the beginning of May.
After dealing with the public health care system over the last few months, Dorssers says their family has decided seek private care. She says unfortunately not everyone has that option.
“That’s really a tragedy, to think that we have to step outside of our health care system, and because of who you are, you may have access or you may not. I’m believe that we are all equal and should have access to equal care.”
From May 1 to Sep. 22 this year, psychiatric bed occupancy rates were never below 128%.