The government revealed new details on its controversial law that would usher patients who no longer require acute care out of a hospital bed and into a long-term care home, even if that home is not of their choosing.
The new rules — which are set to take effect on Sept. 21 — would allow the province to clear alternate level of care (ALC) patients out of Ontario hospitals, freeing up beds during what advocates describe as a crisis in health care facilities.
Currently, patients wait an average of 20.7 hours in the emergency room because of a lack of available acute care beds in hospitals.
The province said ALC patients would be assigned a placement coordinator who would assess the patient’s eligibility to enter a long-term care home based on the facility’s ability to care for the patient’s needs.
The government said the home could be as far away as 150 km from the patient’s home community in northern Ontario and 70 km in southern Ontario — the equivalent of driving from Queen’s Park to Hamilton.
“The distances are based on input we received from the sector and provide hospitals with the options needed for this policy to be effective,” the government said in a news release.
The government said once a suitable home was found the placement coordinator would “authorize the patient’s admission” while the presiding doctor would simultaneously discharge the patient from hospital.
In effect, the patient would be given two options: move into a long-term care home or face a daily hospital charge of $400 beginning on Nov. 20.
“This fee would be charged to any discharged patient who refuses to leave hospital,” the Ford government said, but added that patients cannot be physically transferred to a long-term care home without consent.
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