Blame For Overcrowding In Our Hospitals Sits Squarely In The Lap Of Government. When Is Government Going To Care Enough To Fix It?

A News Commentary posted November 3rd, 2017 on Niagara At Large

“It is irrefutable that overcrowded emergency departments lead to higher rates of patient mortality,” reads an excerpt from a news release circulated this November 1st by the citizens-based health care advocacy group called the Ontario Health Coalition and posted this November 2nd on Niagara At Large. “Yet the majority of Ontario’s hospitals are routinely running at more than 85 percent capacity almost all the time and many are running at 100 – 120 percent or even higher.”

This is a news release that was responded to with  commentary sent Niagara At Large’s way from Linda McKellar – a Niagara, Ontario resident and retired nurse who  has also been a vocal advocate for quality, public health care services in Niagara – and as much as it is already featured below the Ontario Health Coalition post on our site, Niagara At Large believes it has things to say that are important enough to post it again here.

Lines of hospital patients crowding the halls

The over-riding point in McKellar’s commentary is that the overcrowding problem in  hospitals here in Niagara and across Ontario is hardly new.

It is a problem that has been there and has been building to crisis proportions – all the while waiting for some government in the province to exercise the will and effort to fix – for far too long now.

Here now is the Commentary by Linda McKellar –

This is not a new situation. I have been retired for almost eight years and it went on for at least a decade prior to that.

There is no privacy… so cool trying to move your bowels on a bedpan in a hallway. Not really too pleasant for your neighbours either, especially when they are already sick.

A great way to get infections from nearby patients. Oops, they now must be called “clients” for some bizarre reason, perhaps because health care is now a business – I hated and refused to use the term.

Members of the Niagara citizens group the Yellow Shirt Brigade, from left, Merilyn Athoe, Joy Russell and Linda McKellar, the author of this commentary, in front of a sign protesting plans in progress a decade ago to gut the hospital in the Niagara, Ontario municipality of Fort Erie. File photo by Doug Draper

It is noisy. How can anyone rest and recuperate in a maelstrom? The lights are often left on 24/7. Very restful! Every time another patient has to go to Xray or elsewhere, everyone else gets shuffled and jostled around. So what if they’re in pain or trying to rest. If they have to be assisted to the bathroom, of course the lovely hospital gowns leave little to the imagination of those around you. Add that to visitors trying to see their loved ones and the scene is like a shopping mall at Christmas minus the festive atmosphere.

What if someone has a crisis like a cardiac arrest? No call bells. No oxygen or suction available in a hall. Resuscitation has to be done on the spot or somehow moved to an appropriate place, to the dismay of onlookers. How awful! Dying in a hallway! That doesn’t even consider the stress on the patients nearby. Even when a patient does die, you have to try to find some semi secluded spot for the family to visit and grieve. DISGUSTING AND DEGRADING!

It is a fire hazard and against fire regulations. I suggest staff call the fire department every time the halls are clogged and the proverbial sh*t will hit the fan. The fire departments have better things to do than answer repetitive calls and eventually someone will act. How could anyone evacuate in such conditions? With oxygen and other flammables plentiful, it is a tragedy waiting to happen.

There is very little confidentiality. You can’t help but overhear what is going on three feet away.

Some patients have even been “stored”, for lack of a better term, in closets or anterooms which also have no facilities.

The staff can’t do their job when not provided with the necessities for doing so. I know for a fact that many staff go home exhausted and in despair because they are overburdened and can’t give the care and attention they want to give.

They are stressed and exhausted and it shows. That is certainly no good for public relations. Then they get sick, either emotionally or physically or both.

They call in sick and that requires already tired staff to work overtime, both costly and hard on the staff and on the patients. Exhausted and disheartened staff are not good care givers. How can they be?

That’s like a truck driver driving 24 hours. Would you want that trucker on the road with you? The cost of overtime for calling in off duty staff in such cases far exceeds hiring the extra staff necessary on a full time basis, even with paying their benefits.

It’s mind boggling that the powers that be cannot comprehend that such behaviour is skyrocketing the very costs they wish to cut. The readmission rates, infection rates and poor recovery outcomes are detrimental to both the system and the patients. A lose/lose situation.

If these people are economists and administrators, they aren’t very good ones. In fact, they are terrible and should be fired. Ask the staff for the solutions. They have the answers because they are front line. They don’t sit in an office or wander around with a clip board.

Sending people to out of town facilities for cancer treatments, dialysis and palliative care, usually involving the elderly for whom travel is a hardship, if not an impossibility, is vile and heartless. The solution, close local hospitals. Bah, humbug!

Niagara area residents join health care rally in front of York Hotel in Toronto eight years ago. Deb Matthews, who was health minister for the Ontario Liberal government at the time and was delivering a speech inside, managed to slip out another door to avoid the demonstration.

This is not totally the fault of the local hospitals or the staff. The fault lies squarely with the GOVERNMENT. I recall going to the Royal York to protest with a Fort Erie group where we were joined by others from Guelph, Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie, Kingston, Windsor, Cambridge….all over the province. The Minister of Health at the time was Deb Matthews. The coward went out the back door. She couldn’t even face the people who pay her and whose lives she was endangering.

I could go on and on but to what point? Whew, at least that’s off my chest. SOOO glad I left my profession before it destroyed me completely. As the “illustrious” Donald J Trump would say….the only time I could possibly agree with him…”SAD!”

Linda McKellar is a Niagara, Ontario resident and retired nurse who remains a strong advocate for quality, universal health care. She is also an avid follower of public affairs who frequently shares here views on Niagara At Large.

To read the news release circulated by the Ontario Health Coalition and posted on Niagara At Large this November 2nd that the above commentary by Linda McKellar is responding to, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2017/11/02/ontario-health-coalition-calls-for-long-term-plan-to-reinvest-rebuild-hospital-bed-capacity-across-province/#more-27975 .

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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7 responses to “Blame For Overcrowding In Our Hospitals Sits Squarely In The Lap Of Government. When Is Government Going To Care Enough To Fix It?

  1. In My opinion there has been a concerted effort, by the Ontario CORPORATE owned and Controlled Liberal and Conservative Parties since day one of the Health Accord to systematically tear apart the social aspect of Universal Health Care and bring it back under the “FOR PROFIT” umbrella of mercenaries. A once Liberal Deputy Prime Minister, Chair and CEO of the CCCE, a Federal Lobbyist, Chair of the CIBC, Honorary Chair of the Private, Public Partnership or (3 for short) and the Chair of the Canadian Branch of the David Rockefeller Trilateral Commission which advocates for a “One World Government” Controlled mainly by ranking Bankers and 1%ers most of which hold membership in the International Bilderberg and the Council on Foreign Relationship. These in my Humble opinion are the real pushers for Privatization in not only Canada but the entire world

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    • Joseph – I totally agree and have thought the same for years. If there’s money to be made, someone will find a way to do so, even if on the backs of the sick and the poor.

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  2. Thank you, Linda, for this accurate and detailed description of what “overcrowding” actually means to patients and to staff. Let us hope that some of the politicians, bureaucrats and administrators making the decisions get to read this. And let us all PLEASE recall Linda’s words when we come to vote in the provincial election next June.

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  3. Chris Wojnarowski

    Looks like just maybe NOW the Welland hospital may saved, despite lack of political will. I still say the Joseph Brant model is the best way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chris, could you give us a brief description of the Joseph Brant model? As for the Welland Hospital being saved…Eric Hoskins says the Welland ER will remain open, but of course he neglects to say how long. He also omits to mention that an ER can’t operate without an OR. So — lots of politicians patting themselves on the back down here at this largely recycled “news”, but some of us are wondering what exactly we’re getting for that $26 million Wynne gave the NHS for “planning” the as-yet-very-hazy project called the South Niagara Hospital. And you may have noticed in the news that Kevin Smith prefers a brand new (i.e. P3) hospital for Welland, inevitably on a different site from the present one (P3 consortiums prefer projects on pristine sites.) Let us by all means get rid of more farmland/green spaces to build expensive new healthcare facilities that our children and grandchildren will still be paying off, so that international investors may profit. That’s the Smith/Wynne idea of healthcare. More money = better healthcare. But does it?

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      • Chris Wojnarowski

        Hospitals should be located where the people are, not out in the boonies where only people who DON’T need a hospital can reach them on a nice sunny day.
        But I’m just whispering into the wind, having talked myself hoarse repeating this simple truth for over 10 years to the same handful of people who actually understand the existential nature of this matter.
        Decision makers lording over us have never been broke, homeless, car-less, sick, disabled, old or generally in serious need of health care … just “immortals” filled with the hubris of power, sneering elites looking at yet another legally sanctioned but immoral way to fleece the nameless disenfranchised many.
        But I digress. As soon as I’ve had my latte all will be lollipops and roses.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Windsor residents have been fighting to keep open urban hospitals that the Powers-That-Be want to replace with — guess what? — a P3 megahospital in a rural area unserviced by bus and inaccessible to those without vehicles. Unfortunately, local politicians have all been drinking the KoolAid, but this group, CAMPP (Citizens for an Accountable Mega-hospital Planning Process) has been conducting the most inventive and intelligent campaign I’ve ever seen to oppose the plan.

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