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Patient advocacy group calls for change as hospital overcrowding leaves Ontarians stranded abroad

FILE - The sagas of two London men came to light recently, after they were stuck abroad due to a shortage of beds at local hospitals.
FILE - The sagas of two London men came to light recently, after they were stuck abroad due to a shortage of beds at local hospitals. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

As Ontarians continue to hear nightmare stories about residents stuck in overseas hospitals, politicians and advocacy groups are calling out for change.

Over the last week, the sagas of two London men came to light after they were stuck abroad because local hospitals didn’t have beds available for them.

READ MORE: London MPP presses premier on overcrowded Ontario hospitals

Larry Dann spent eight days at a Miami hospital waiting for an available bed in his hometown.

Meanwhile, 71-year-old Stuart Cline died in a St. Catharines hospital over the weekend, after spending over a week in Mexico with a brain bleed and heart condition.

“It’s a full-on crisis situation, and our hospitals are running in this situation all the time,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

“The responsibility for that falls squarely at the feet of the government and health minister,” she said.

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After searching for just 30 minutes on Monday, Mehra found four cases of people in dire health situations who were trapped abroad because there was no bed available back home.

“Sometimes for weeks at a time, several of them died,” she said.

Asked how there can be no open hospital beds, Mehra said hospitals in Ontario are running at capacity.

READ MORE: London, Ont. man in hospital in St. Catharines after ‘nightmare’ in Mexico

“It means that every bed is full. It means there are stretchers in hallways, patients waiting sometimes for days to get admitted into an actual ward for proper care. It means ambulances are taken off the roads [because they are] waiting to offload patients because there’s no one to take them. It means emergency rooms get backlogged,” said Mehra.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said there is a breakdown of communication between insurers and the health-care system as they try to return Ontarians home for care.

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