Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Conservative "Innovation" - Alberta Style

So, now our geniuses in Edmonton want to close acute care beds and create long term care beds to replace them.

This is another example of how short-sighted the Alberta government really is. The problem they are addressing? There are people in acute care beds that should be in long term care facilities. So far, so good - creating long term care beds is a reasonable thing to do in addressing that problem.

However, it is dead wrong to simply close those acute care beds once you have shuffled the patients out of them into the new, and apparently cheaper to operate, long term beds.

Why do I say that this is an error? Simple - the supposition is that the acute care bed is not meaningfully needed outside of its current role of being a long term bed is false.

The net effect of this change is to further reduce the available bandwidth in acute care, which is guaranteed to increase waiting times for necessary treatment. It has been pointed out that the volume of this cut is equivalent to closing down the Grey Nuns hospital in Edmonton - it's just split between Edmonton and Calgary.

We already know that Calgary (and likely Edmonton too) is running with far fewer beds than we should be. This article shows Calgary and Edmonton at 1.7 Beds / 1,000 population - which is less than half the national average, at the time, and near the bottom of the heap when it comes to other countries ... only marginally better than Mexico.

All this does is exacerbate existing problems. Rather than actually measuring the effect of one change (adding long term care beds) and then determining how best to utilize those resources, they are just going to cut the acute care beds - regardless of whether or not those are needed for other purposes. The people who will pay the price for this? Those who find themselves in need of hospital care for any reason and are unfortunate enough to live in Calgary or Edmonton.

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