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The Grey Tsunami and Ontario ER Wait Times

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Feb 28 2013
HAMILTON SPECTATOR
Letter to the Editor

Grey tsunami approaching our hospitals
Health minister ‘is OK’ with closing hospital beds (Feb. 26)

Only last week, your paper reported that hospitals in the Hamilton region had a terrible track record for ER wait times, which evidence has shown is due to hospital crowding, leading to backlogs in the emergency department.

Health Minister Deb Matthews generously cites a 17 per cent rate of Alternative Level of Care (ALC) patients, those patients occupying a hospital bed who would be better served in nursing homes or at home with community support. Other hospitals routinely cite that number in the mid-20s. Regardless, solving the problem of those hospital beds occupied by ALC patients will help but will not solve hospital crowding.

A grey tsunami is rapidly approaching the shores of Ontario. The population is getting older and despite the expectation of a wellness dividend, there is no evidence that older Ontarians will be any healthier than their parents. Sooner or later, an Ontario health minister will realize that there will need to be a restoration of hospital bed capacity if we are to avoid the continued disgrace and danger of crowded ERs.

Alan Drummond MD, Chair, Public Affairs, Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, Ottawa

Letter to the Editor
Hamilton Spectator
February 28, 2013

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