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County doctors concerned about bed cuts

The physicians of Prince Edward County has expressed concern about the possible loss of beds at Picton hospital with the following press release submitted on behalf of the 24 Family Physicians of Prince Edward County by Doctors Josh Colby, Greg Higgins and Cliff Rice:

Quinte HealthCare Corporation has a significant problem with congestion in the Belleville (BGH) emergency room and part of that problem is undoubtedly too few inpatient beds at Belleville.  Our physicians have met several times with QHC management to explore ways to assist BGH.

While not enthusiastic about the loss of any beds, the PEC physicians proposed to QHC management that four acute care beds be relocated from Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital (PECMH) to Belleville General while some lower acuity beds move back to PECMH. We asked for a six month trial of our proposal.  We made it clear that we could not support the loss of more than four acute beds at this time.

Losing more than four acute care beds risks pushing PECMH below the threshold number of beds needed to provide local care, and to keep our skilled nurses and other staff in the community. It could also lead to overflow of inpatients into our emergency department leading to suboptimal care and longer wait times. With fewer beds in Picton, more local residents would have to be hospitalized in Belleville and would not be cared for by their own family doctor. Ultimately, the County physicians believe that the loss of eight acute beds at PECMH would be a substantial step backwards in the provision of health care services within Prince Edward County.

The PEFHT and the PECMH medical staff cannot support the transfer of more than four acute beds at this time.


Why are we talking about eight beds?

The eight beds under review for possible relocation to BGH represent one third of the current 24 beds at Picton Hospital.   These eight beds have been designated as “corporate beds” by QHC to accommodate patients within the entire QHC area who do not have a family physician providing in-hospital services at QHC (referred to as “orphan patients”).

In 2010, these eight beds were identified for closure by QHC as part of the financial recovery plan.  Extremely concerned with the impact of closing that number of beds, the County physicians fought hard to retain the beds, and ultimately offered to take all orphan patients to Picton hospital. The County physicians felt that they had managed an excellent compromise that would ensure the ongoing viability of Picton as an acute care hospital.
Do we need the beds in Picton?

As it turns out, the statistics suggest that on average only about four of these beds have been used by patients from elsewhere, while the other four are occupied most of the time by County patients.  The physicians are deeply concerned that cutting more than four beds would directly affect the care of County patients.

QHC may move beds from PECMH to BGH

FRIDAY JAN 7 – Quinte Health Care may move some general medicine beds from Picton hospital to Belleville General.
QHC President and CEO Mary Clare Egberts says occasional adjustments are needed to meet changing patient demands.
“Our physician and clinical leaders have been monitoring trends and patient care data and we expect they will be making a proposal in early February to move some of QHC’s general medicine beds, particularly from Picton to Belleville, in order to ensure we can adequately meet the needs of patients from right across the region who require all levels of care, including specialized services.”
Egberts confirms that any changes would not impact the type or quality of services available at Picton and there would continue to be surge capacity for the high demand months.
“We are committed to ensuring that Prince Edward County patients who can stay at the Picton hospital site now will continue to stay in Picton in the future.”
Moving beds from Picton to Belleville would mean that patients without a family doctor in Belleville and Quinte West may no longer need to be transferred to Picton. During the development of the financial recovery plan in 2009, QHC designated eight beds at QHC PECMH for patients from Belleville and Quinte West who do not have a family physician. At the time, there was a shortage of family physicians in these communities.
“Our data shows that there continues to be pressures and patient flow issues throughout the organization and that the beds in Picton for ‘unattached’ patients are not being optimally utilized,” she said. “Meanwhile, there are patients from all over the region who are waiting in the QHC Belleville General Emergency Room for an inpatient bed because they require the specialized services only available at that site, even with the successes from the recent process improvement plan that greatly enhanced patient care.”
QHC also continues negotiations with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for funding to open additional beds to meet community needs as part of the redevelopment at BGH.
An average of 58 per cent of the beds at QHC Belleville General are occupied by people from outside the Belleville area who require specialized services such as cardiology, intensive care, internal medicine, inpatient surgery and inpatient rehabilitation.
“We recognize that it is premature to be talking about potential changes in the number of inpatient beds because the proposal has not yet been finalized and no decisions have been made,” said Egberts. “However, we wanted to ensure community members had the opportunity to understand the rationale for any proposed changes, in advance of rumours circulating through the community.”
Meanwhile, QHC and the Family Health Team continue to work together on the long-term redevelopment plan that would include a new primary care hospital in Picton, complte with inpatient beds, a 24-hour Emergency Room, diagnostic services, outpatient clinics, family physicians and community support services all operating together in one location. The partners expect that draft plans will be ready for consultation in the first quarter of 2011 and then go to the Ministry of Health and Long Term are in mid-2011.
“In 2011, a hospital should not be defined by its number of inpatient beds, but by the quality of services it provides,” said Egberts. “Our long-term plans for QHC Prince Edward County Memorial will ensure its vibrant future that we believe will be a model for sustainable, primary rural health care in Ontario.”

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  1. Doris Lane says:

    Check the editorial in the Wellington Times and as Rick says it is time for us to fight for our hospital again. Rick mentioned it is just the tip of the iceberg we loose some beds now and then later a few more.
    A lot of money has been spent on PECMH and I think we deserve to a full operational facility here in the County. Over the years a lot of us have invested a lot of time and money in the Picton Hospital. We do not wish for it all to be in vain.

  2. Doris Lane says:

    A new primary care hospital in Picton. We have just finished doing extensive renovations to the emergency care centre at PECMH. I hope they are not going to take that down and build a new centre.
    I think it is unreasonable that the latest wing that was built on Picton Hospital does not have one patient bed in it.
    It is certainly too bad that Picton could not have been left as an independent hospital like Napanee is. It made no sense to join the QHC team.

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