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Province of Ontario gives Hamilton hospitals over $15 million for more than 150 new beds

60 beds at a downtown Hamilton satellite health facility will alleviate pressure on surgery backlogs at local hospitals.
60 beds at a downtown Hamilton satellite health facility will alleviate pressure on surgery backlogs at local hospitals. Google Maps

Hamilton hospitals will be getting more than 150 new beds in order to help them tackle surgical backlogs and reduce wait times.

In a release on Wednesday, the provincial government announced that Hamilton Health Sciences will receive just over $9 million for 93 total patient beds, while St. Joseph’s Healthcare will receive $6.6 million to add 64 new patient beds.

“The additional funding of nearly $16 million will help alleviate pressures on the acute care hospitals in Hamilton and underscores our government’s commitment toward ending hallway health care,” wrote Donna Skelly, MPP for Flamborough-Glanbrook, in the release.

It’s part of a larger investment of $116.5 million to create up to 766 more beds at 32 hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province.

Read more: Satellite health facility in downtown Hamilton will alleviate possible COVID-19 surge

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Locally, the investment will benefit a new satellite health facility in downtown Hamilton, with 60 of the new beds being added to the temporary site in Effort Square on King Street East.

“It will make a huge difference,” said Donna Johnson, acting vice president, Acute, Rehab and Complex Care Services, and chief nursing executive at St. Joe’s.

The other four beds will be in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Johnson said about 20 to 25 per cent of patients are better off in a community setting that’s more ‘home-like’.

“It’s better for the patient and it gives us the capacity to do the acute care, and also to be prepared for COVID pressures as they present,” said Johnson. “A hospital’s not the best place for people once their acute care is over, and they’re ready to be in the community. So we think it’ll be a nice environment for them.”

Read more: Virtual emergency rooms bridge gap between health-care professionals, patients amid pandemic

It will also give them the room they need to reduce hospital wait times and tackle the massive backlog in elective surgeries that amassed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnson said they’re working “very hard” to get caught up on the surgeries that had to be postponed during the first wave.

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“Right now, we’re functioning at about 105 per cent volume in our surgical programs, trying to get caught up on some of the backlog. So having this increased capacity in the community and even within ICU, will really help that.”

The satellite facility was initially set to begin operating earlier this month, but Johnson said some necessary “redevelopment” work took longer than expected.

The first 30 patients will be moved from St. Joe’s into the Effort Square location next week, with another 30 to follow in early December.

The facility is currently funded up until March 2021, and Johnson said they’ll be seeking further funding to keep it operating beyond that date.

Click to play video 'Ontario government increases hospital funding to address ‘hallway medicine’' Ontario government increases hospital funding to address ‘hallway medicine’
Ontario government increases hospital funding to address ‘hallway medicine’ – Apr 18, 2019