Solution to Overcrowded Emergency Rooms is Better Access to Community Care
Seniors & their families deserve care in the community – not a stretcher in a hospital hallway
(Burnaby, B.C.) March 5, 2017: Resolving the issue of overcrowded hospital emergency rooms in BC means making an important change in our approach says Daniel Fontaine, CEO for the BC Care Providers Association. With a rapidly aging population, it is critical we focus our attention on increasing capacity for care outside of traditional hospital settings – otherwise we will continue to read headlines of overcrowded emergency room for the next two decades.
“The research is pretty clear that resolving the issue of overcrowded hospital emergency rooms requires simply more than status quo thinking,” says Fontaine. “We have simply run out of time to plan what an aging population will look like. It is already here and British Columbians are demanding that new investments be directed into the community, not necessarily emergency waiting rooms.”
According to statistics compiled by the Institute for Health System Transformation and Sustainability, 13% of every single hospital bed is being taken up by someone awaiting care in the community. A phenomenon not unique to British Columbia – but affecting many other health jurisdictions across Canada and the World.
The cost to operate a hospital bed for someone who does not require it can be up to $1,800 per day. This compares to approximately $200 per day in a residential care setting and significantly less than that in home care. A shift of only 1% of the hospital budget back to the community is estimated to support an increase of 4,400 permanent new long-term care beds or up to 12 million additional home care hours.
“Fraser Health should be applauded for their leadership in beginning the much needed transfer of resources out of hospitals and into the community,” says Fontaine. “There are a lot of seniors and people who identify as part of the ‘sandwich generation’ who stand to benefit from this type of leadership.
“Seniors is BC deserve better care. They rely on it to be there when they need it. Investment in the community now will result in less crowded emergency departments into the future.”
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According to the Fraser Health Authority:
- The number of seniors living in Fraser Health will increase by more than 50% over the next 10 years.
- Older adults make up 13% of the Fraser Health population yet account for 34% of all hospital admissions.
- Seniors stayed in hospital an average of 12.5 days compared to 5.2 for people younger than 65 years old.
- Currently, approximately 14% of Canadian hospital beds are filled with patients (85% of which are seniors) who are ready to be discharged but for whom there is no appropriate place to go.Over a single year, these patients’ use of acute hospital beds exceeds 2.4 million days, which equates to over 7,500 acute care beds each day.
- BCCPA recently released 30 recommendations in its roadmap to strengthen seniors care in B.C. See http://bccare.ca/roadmap