Interesting story: http://www.canadaeast.com/rss/article/1387831
Last week, 15 beds at the Upper River Valley Hospital were occupied by patients waiting for a space in a nursing home or another long-term care facility.
Another five were in the same position at Hotel-Dieu of St. Joseph in Perth-Andover.
The executive director of the Upper River Valley region for the Horizon Health Network said the problem is happening across New Brunswick.
"We're not in a unique situation," said Dean Cummings.
Earlier this week, Horizon's vice-president of clinical care Nancy Savage said the problem is chronic and is steadily growing.
She said these patients no longer require acute care but are unable to return to their homes due to their care requirements.
As of Feb. 2, 29 per cent of acute-care beds in the hospitals under Horizon's purview were occupied by such patients, a total of 386 beds.
Savage said it's a capacity issue and it creates a trickle-down effect.
The patients waiting for alternate-care spaces don't have access to programs that help them with mobility or cognition they would get in nursing homes or other facilities.
At the same time, the lack of acute-care beds causes overflow in other parts of hospitals.
Cummings said the Upper River Valley Hospital typically has 25 to 38 per cent of its beds occupied by patients waiting for what he described as "alternate-level care."
"It certainly puts pressure on the system," Cummings said.
Horizon is working with the New Brunswick departments of Health and Social Development and the francophone Vitalite Health Network to find a solution.
Savage said multiple solutions will be required and a fix won't happen immediately.
She said a lot will depend on what the provincial government can afford as it deals with the province's fiscal crisis.
"They've got a lot of hard decisions to make," she said.
Cummings said the bottom line is a patient will be admitted if they require care, but he acknowledged the need for overflow space.
He said a proposal is before the Department of Health that would allow the Upper River Valley Hospital to open 25 more beds, bringing it to capacity.
A wing at the hospital has remained closed since the facility opened in November 2007.
Social Development Minister Sue Stultz said the problem could get worse over time as the population of seniors in New Brunswick is expected to double in the next 20 years.
"When we are able to move people into a care facility, the hospital bed fills back up quickly," Stultz said.
The minister estimated there are 700 seniors in New Brunswick waiting for a bed and most are in hospitals.
Stultz said the government has a plan to deal with the patient backup to free acute-beds for patients who need them.
She said seniors tell her they would prefer to remain in their homes, and response teams are in place that take input from doctors and a patient's family to determine who can return home with some home care.
The government has also committed to building space for 300 new nursing-home beds across the province.
"We do have to build more homes, but we also have to keep seniors more healthy and promote wellness and active living," Stultz said.
With files from CanadaEast News Service