Hospital patients that no longer need acute care at Kingston Health Sciences Centre may be on the move.
Due to new legislation in Ontario, those waiting to be admitted to a long-term care facility of their choice could ultimately face the decision of moving to a different facility.
If the patient chooses stay in hospital, a $400-a-day fee to continue their hospital care will apply, effective in late November.
“It’s something very few people would be able to afford,” says Kingston and the Islands MPP Ted Hsu. “In a sense, it’s a push out of the hospital.”
The provincial legislation passed in the last several weeks could see patients placed in a long-term care facility up to 70 kilometres away for southern Ontario residents.
The head of the KHSC says the legislation would impact very few people in their care, and no one has ever been sent that far from their community.
“People who, for whatever reason, only put their names on a small number of (long-term care) homes, and especially the homes with very long wait times,” says Dr. David Pichora, president and CEO of KHSC, of those who will be affected.
“This will move the conversation along about having your name on additional homes.”
Pichora says those types of conversations with patients and families have been taking place long before the new legislation.
Currently, about 550 of KHSC’s 600 beds are in use. Approximately 40 of those beds are individuals waiting for long-term care.
But Pichora says only a few of them would be impacted by the new legislation that the Ontario government estimates would free up 400 hospital beds across the province.
Hsu agrees that hospital beds do need to be freed up, but says he would rather have seen the focus on other areas of the health-care system.
“Make sure the long term care homes are fully staffed so that all the space is available,” says Hsu.
“We also have to make sure there are home supports.”
Pichora says that work is taking place, but there are no quick fixes.
“This is about trying to improve things for access for patients needing acute care – an acute care bed and team to look after them,” he says. “But it’s also about helping the well-being of our staff who are under a lot of pressure.”
Patients that move to a long-term care facility won’t lose their spot for their preferred long-term care home when one becomes available.