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Hospital patients will need to be patient with longer wait times

People using hospital services are being advised to be patient while Quinte Health Care’s four hospitals work through the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, staff shortages and system realignment to improve access to care.

Despite the challenges, QHC president and CEO Stacey Daub says people should still feel they can go to the hospitals in Picton, Belleville, Trenton and Bancroft for care.

Daub told media Tuesday morning she equates the last three waves of the pandemic as “a continuous assault” and despite the fact numbers are going down, it has had “significant impact on the broader health care system. The aftershocks and the continued impact of the pandemic are going to be experienced for quite some time.”

In the first three waves of the pandemic (2020-2021) the four hospitals saw about 400 people in emergency departments. In the latest three waves, there have been 1,300 people. The first three waves saw 73 patients with COVID-19 compared to 500 so far in the last three waves. The fourth wave began in early fall 2021 and the sixth is ongoing.

In the first three waves, 23 staff were not able to work as they had COVID. From November to May there have been 726 staff not able to work.

Coupled with an ongoing shortages of physicians, and now anesthesiologists, diagnostic imaging experts, and issues outside of hospitals themselves, Daub expects the road to recovery will take months and in some cases years for the entire system to become strong.

“Hospitals have been operating ‘very much in an emergency state and it is taking a heavy toll’ on staff and increasing wait times – with the hospitals running about 30 per cent more inpatient beds than before the pandemic.

People are waiting longer – in emergency, to see a specialist, to get an impatient bed, or tertiary service, and to get back home.

“It’s happing across the province and is a challenge for (those) providing a standard of service. The situation, Daub adds, is not unique to the Quinte area, and to varying degrees is being faced at all hospitals.

A national shortage of anesthesiologists is limiting and delaying surgeries across the province. There is also a 50 per cent vacancy rate for cat-scan technologists meaning high-priority work is done first, while lower priorities that once took six weeks, may take up to six months.

There are 2,200 staff at the four QHC hospitals and 250 vacancies. There are 300 doctors and specialists and QHC wants 50 more.

At QHC, cat-scans are available at Trenton and Belleville hospitals, but due to staff shortages, evening and weekend patients could be moved to Belleville for scans. Agency RNs and RPNs are being hired on three-month terms and ambassadors are being put in place at emergency to help patients understand the delays and that they are “not being forgotten.”

Dr. Colin MacPherson, Chief of Staff , said it’s helpful for patients to understand the circumstances and teams will provide good care as best they can.

“In the hospital, there are physicians with case loads of 40 instead of 20 so there’s less time for everybody. Good care is still there, but it will take longer.”

He noted that even if the pandemic were to stop today, there would still be a whole number of issues within the system contributing to demand and resources that will likely take “months to years” to resolve.

Prior to the pandemic about 15 per cent of surgical cases were not performed within Ontario guidelines. That, said Daub, is now an “unacceptable” 24 per cent, but still better than rates at some other hospitals.

Susan Rowe, vice-president, stated that while QHC has recruited 207 new staff members, 149 more are retiring or moving on to other opportunities.

“We are fortunate to be in a desirable area, but we just can’t recruit fast enough and are facing unprecedented competition.”

“All roads lead to QHC if people do not have a doctor,” said Daub as they must come to the hospital, if there are no clinics. We must also build a healthier system outside of the hospital walls.

She applauded recent funding and directives toward mid-size and rural hospitals and notes that is the correct path forward as strategies are much different than in larger centres.

“It is important to understand and appreciate the uniqueness of mid-sized and rural hospitals and tailor strategies,” she noted, adding everybody should understand social detriments such as mental health, housing and poverty are inter-related.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. ADJ says:

    I could not agree more with Bruce N last entry. The put downs of one party over another gets boring after awhile and accomplishes nothing. If I have to I can hear all I want from the leaders when they put on their publicity act for the media.

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    Hospitals and healthcare are at the crux of this discussion and of the article – as I originally pointed out, this article contradicts what our Premier claimed were so called facts during the last TV debate.

  3. Bruce Nicholson says:

    It would be nice if this site did not become the soap box for pushing political agenda. Put up your yard sign, support your chosen candidate and vote!
    This story is on hospital wait times. I waited over three weeks to get an X-ray appointment at Picton hospital until I learned of Napanee’s walk in X-Ray practice. Within 30 minutes of entering Napanee Hospital, I had my X-Ray taken. Both hospitals are publicly funded. Perhaps we need a review of healthcare management.

  4. Fred says:

    Municipalities have always been responsible for a portion of a new Hospital build and we have reached our goal. Let’s be fair with facts.

  5. Dennis Fox says:

    I have heard a lot of general rah, rah stuff about Ford and Smith, but nothing specific. Just what leadership did either show that helped PEC? (We agree that the cancelation of IWTs is a good thing, but that was years ago – so what else do you have?) We still have huge road maintenance costs, still fundraising for our hospital, we are losing doctors and are in need of at least 6 more family doctors NOW!, the gap between rich and poor here has increased, food insecurity is at its height, our food bank is under increasing pressure and our LTC homes have had cuts ( remember the picket lines last spring?), and PEC still depends on tourism for our income – so stop with the hype and talk facts please.

    If you look at your latest municipal tax bill you will see two(2) levies – one for road improvements, the other for funding our hospital – both costs that have been downloaded onto our municipality. So just what will Ford or Smith do to help this? ZIP!!!!

  6. Emily says:

    Like or hate the present Ontario Government, there is no party prepared to replace Doug. And Doug is well liked. This election is already decided.

  7. Susan says:

    Todd is a prime example of riding leadership!

  8. Bruce Nicholson says:

    Well, I for one am very impressed with Todd Smith’s efforts to support the County and Quinte region. The media has kept us informed of his efforts over the last four years.

  9. Dennis Fox says:

    No doubt about it, the cancelling of IWTs in PEC was a big winner for Todd Smith. As the saying goes – what has he done for us lately? It is not as if the Con Government has a good Environmental Plan – they don’t! Ford’s idea of increasing electric car capacity is fine – but don’t forget he remove 1000’s of recharging stations right after being elected – it cost taxpayers over $3 Billion! He also cancelled “Cap and Trade” that cost taxpayers again $3 Billion – not including the millions spent on lawyers challenging it in our courts. The battery plant in Windsor relies on what Ford hopes will be the “Ring of Fire” in Northern Ont. – yet he has had no discussions with the aboriginal people who own the land. Just like “Buck-A-Beer” his environmental plan is pie in the sky. As far as Todd Smith goes – he still has not helped us with our road costs which were transferred to us by the Harris government, our hospital fundraising is great – but we have waited a long time for basic care. As for education, Smith supported the withdrawal of the modern sex education curriculum and replaced it with a 20 year old program – PLUS he has let down all those parents of autistic children by decreasing their funding and since has played a shell game with them. Rolling back the minimum wage for those who needed it was not a brave thing for him to support either. no, Smith does not impress me.

    But like I said – cancelling the IWTs was great for PEC at the time – but life moves on and to date Smith has not moved with it.

  10. Gary says:

    The fact Todd ridded us of useless Industrial Turbines makes him a winner as long as he runs.

  11. Fred says:

    Right on. The Liberals were sent away with non party status for soul searching and obviously didn’t take it serious. Doug will win a landslide majority. He cares and has shown it! As for Todd, he has delivered and may very well be the next Premier in waiting.

  12. Rob #2 says:

    There was four consecutive Liberal governments between the Mike Harris government and the present one. Possibly the diehard Liberal voters could question those governments as to why efforts weren’t made to reverse the “horrible” actions of Premier Harris and company. They only had fifteen years in power to correct the Harris policies.

    Continually having Mike Harris trotted out twenty years after he left office is becoming a bit of a stretch with each passing election.

    And let’s not forget that the ARC process carried out by the school board to much controversy over here five years ago was likely a key contributor to us getting Todd Smith in the first place. How many Liberal voting parents marked a ballot for Mr. Smith as a result of that action, and how many voters did the same as a show of defiance to the Wynne government’s disgusting display of arrogance in ignoring all complaint about White Pines project and dumping that issue in the lap of the next government? Are we supposed to forget those recent issues but remember Mike Harris from 20 years ago?

    Doug Ford has at least shown that he is a human being, not without flaws and that is something that not all recent Premiers have been able to show. Our Local MPP has worked hard for our riding and I intend to vote for him, and I hope everyone who is fair minded will consider doing so as well. The Ontario Liberal party deserves nothing but another four years out in the wilderness.

  13. Dee says:

    We seem to forget that when the Conservatives came to power they cut hospital funds….and now pre election, they are “increasing funding” to hospitals….but not at the rate that they took away in the beginning. This is like the “shell” game. Now you see it, now you don’t.

    I have always tried to vote based on a party’s platform, because voting for the local representative really does not mean a lot. They can get voted in and have little to no impact when it comes to the party steamroller. You want to advance or have a cabinet position, just do what the Premier or party wants, right or wrong, and to heck with the constituency that you are supposed to represent?

  14. Chuck says:

    I doubt many want to return to the Liberal health care conundrum. And the NDP have no experience and are unaffordable. So Doug will continue to lead.

  15. SS says:

    It would be useful to know what our current Premier told his cabinet ministers in terms of “mandate letters”. Unfortunately, Ford refuses to release them and has been spending taxpayer money in legal costs to continue to do so.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/supreme-court-mandate-letter-appeal-leave-decision-1.6457956

    Consider this text from the article:

    “It’s unclear how many tax dollars and government resources have gone toward denying the public access to the mandate letters.

    For more than two years, CBC News has been trying to obtain information on how much time Crown attorneys have devoted to the mandate letter case. The Ministry of the Attorney General has denied two freedom of information requests, claiming attorney-client privilege.

    The latest request, which asked for the total number of hours counsel have spent on the case from July 2018 to July 2021, is now in the adjudication stage with the privacy commissioner.”

    It’s easy to claim how great you are, when you don’t have to disclose what you have actually done, as opposed to simple claims which cannot be verified.

  16. Dennis Fox says:

    I believe we need to remember that the previous government was left a mess after the Harris years – hospitals across the province were closed, nurses were fired and a flood of doctors headed south across our border – and don’t forget the health tragedy at Walkerton that also cost lives. Until COVID hit, this current provincial government was on the same course – Ford did fire 1000’s of nurses and PSWs and limited wage increase to 1% – but gave police 4% – a typical Conservative ploy. Also this very article is highlighting that our health system has not been improved at all over the last 21/2 yrs since COVID – in fact it is worse – many are leaving nursing because of the Ford government’s lack of action and respect – and being over worked!

    The one real question that leaves me cold with Ford is the one surrounding privately owned LTC homes. Why did he pass a law preventing families (who lost loved ones because of neglect) unable to sue the private owners? BTW – Mike Harris makes $250K/yr sitting on the Bd. of Directors of Chartwell Homes.

  17. Paul D Cole says:

    I think a lot of the money Ford and his party have spent in the last little while on healthcare has come from the Federal governments covid support funds given to Provinces when the pandemic began…

  18. ADJ says:

    Always glad to see discussion from both sides. I remain neutral and accept that none of the parties are perfect in the attempt to form a government.

  19. Bruce Nicholson says:

    COVID has devastated many healthcare systems globally. In the debate, I believe Mr. Ford identified the additional dollars his government has put into healthcare.He acknowledged the negative impact that COVID has had. It has been an uphill climb after 13 years of healthcare cuts of the previous Liberal governments.

  20. Dennis Fox says:

    The information in this article is much different from what the public were lead to believe during the Provincial Leaders Debate – Doug Ford explained how great the system is working and how many millions extra his government has spent on improving it. Having extended wait times and possibly seeing very sick people having to get care elsewhere is not what I would call improving the healthcare system. Compound this with the nurses ads on TV explaining the shortages – I think the public need to pay very close attention between now and election day.

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