Why The Shock? – Cuts to Health Care Services Have Been Contributing to Overcrowding in Ontario’s Hospitals for a Long Time

The Ford Government’s Cuts  Are Just Making It Worse

A  Commentary by Linda McKellar, a retired hospital nurse living in Niagara, Ontario

Posted January 23rd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

(The following commentary by Linda McKellar is a response to a January 22nd, 2020 news release from Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates.

In the  news release, posted on Niagara At Large earlier this January 23rd, Gates  raises concerns and admonishes Ontario’s Ford government over what he characterizes as “shocking overcrowding” conditions in Ontario hospitals, including those at the Greater Niagara General Hospital (GNGH) site in his home riding. Gates was reacting to overcrowding statistics cited in a recent CBC news report.

Now here is Linda McKellar’s response from the perspective of someone who spent many years working in Niagara hospitals.)

Why was Wayne Gates shocked?

I’ve been retired (from hospital nursing) for ten years and it had already gone on for a decade even then! Do people have their heads in a box?

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

I presented this case to Andrea Horwath in a speech at a public hearing ten years ago. To her credit, she was the only provincial politician there and I know she did bring it up at Queen’s Park.

Hallway medicine was always bad but with Ford’s cuts (to health care and related progams and services)  it can only get worse.

If you don’t have enough of something already, why would you reduce it even more?

Most of the people stuck in halls are not there due to acute illnesses but elderly folks awaiting long term care beds that just aren’t available is spite of our aging population. That will only get worse. Considering that Ontario is the economic engine of the country, there are fewer beds per capita than any other province.

So-called “hallway medicine” is becoming more commonplace in Ontario’s hospitals

I remember people in store rooms with no accessibility to emergency equipment if something went wrong. No suction to clear a patient’s airway.

What if someone had a cardiac arrest in a closet or anteroom?

Staff couldn’t even get in let alone get the necessary equipment. They would have to use portable oxygen tanks and haul in monitors or a defibrillator , or alternately drag the patient on a stretcher through the hall past other patients (stressing them out) and then they would have to evict someone else from an appropriate room to treat the emergency.

They had to share a bathroom with a dozen other people. A great way to spread disease.

On top of that, they cut cleaning staff.

What could possibly go wrong?

One result was the C Difficile outbreak in Niagara that killed several people.

Those in hallways had no privacy and lots of noise and commotion. Doesn’t everyone want to have a bowel movement on a bedpan in a hall surrounded by other patients and visitors? My butt would clamp shut like a vice! Not very restful at the time you need it most.

Protest rallies like this have become far more common over the past few decades

Stretchers in the halls block access to exit s during emergencies. This is against FIRE CODES!

The new St Catharines hospital has fewer beds than the two that it replaced and is far from central for easy access but it has a lovely lobby and a Tim Horton’s!

WOW! I don’t care if the lobby is pretty and has a piano. Give me a clean room with a toilet.

Try to find parking. You can drive for a half hour trying to find a spot.

Not to be a conspiracy theorist but for years my view has been that insurance companies are lobbying our politicians to create a two-tier health care system. Make ours second rate so people will get fed up.

 If they have the cash, they’ll go for private coverage and big insurance can get their foot in the door. $$$$$$$$$. This is also happening in the UK. I guess they think we’re too stupid to realize it.

Don’t automatically blame the staff. Most are doing what they can, considering what they have been given to work with.

Others are burned out or have simply given up.

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 Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates’  News Release, posted this January 23rd on Niagara At Large, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2020/01/23/niagara-falls-mpp-wayne-gates-responds-to-shocking-overcrowding-stats-at-greater-niagara-gneral-hospital-gngh-site/

The CBC report on hospital overcrowing can be found here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-hospital-hallway-medicine-healthcare-beyond-capacity-1.5420434

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“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders


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