Andrea Horwath Seeks End to Gridlock at Thunder Bay Hospital

Andrea Horwath New Democcrat Leader
New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath

Andrea Horwath New Democcrat Leader
New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath has focused on Thunder Bay

QUEENS PARK – Updated – NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is focused on the North this week. In Question Period, in the Legislature, the NDP leader has repeatedly pressured the Ontario Liberals to take action in Thunder Bay. 


Liberals Must Fix Backlog at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre- Horwath by netnewsledger

During Question Period today in the Legislature Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called the government to account for patient backlogs at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

“Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is bursting at the seams. While this government puts all of its energy into passing legislation that will benefit one Ontario construction company, more and more patients in Thunder Bay are getting care on gurneys in alcoves and waiting areas because every bed in their hospital is full”, said Horwath “Is this the government’s idea of transforming health care in the north?”

The hospital has been forced into Code Gridlock more than 15 times since January. Nine months after the problem was supposedly fixed with a plan from the LHIN, the situation only continues to get worse. Under questioning from the NDP Leader the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care admitted to the seriousness of the problem at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, but didn’t offer any solutions.

Horwath refused to accept excuses from the government, “The reality is that hospital overcrowding is nothing new under this Liberal government. In Thunder Bay and across the province, hospitals are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Patients who should be in long-term care facilities or getting care at home are stuck waiting in a hospital, while the patients who need to be in hospital beds are stuck waiting on gurneys in the hallways.”

A spokesperson for the Minister of Health, Deb Matlhews says, “Under our Action Plan for Health Care, it’s a priority that patients get access to the right care, at the right time, and in the right place.  That’s why we’re increasing access to long-term care and home care.  Since 2003, we have built 668 new LTC beds in Thunder Bay.  Through the Centre for Excellence for Integrated Seniors’ Services project, we are in the process of constructing a long term bed facility that upon completion is expected to total 544 beds.  We are also investing in more home care which will help relieve pressure in our hospitals.  I know that Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences is working hard to address their capacity issues.  Between September 2010 and April 2013, the hospital has seen a 38% reduction in Alternative Level of Care patients.   We know that more work needs to be done and our government is committed to making sure that the people in Thunder Bay get the care that they need, when and where they need it.”

The NDP Leader demanded better for patients in Thunder Bay, “Will the Premier please tell us why her government is more focused on passing a bill to benefit one of their biggest donors than it is in meeting the health care needs of the people of Thunder Bay?”

From the Hansard

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Premier. Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is bursting at the seams. The hospital has been forced into Code Gridlock more than 15 times since January. Nine months after the problem was supposedly fixed with a plan from the local LHIN, the situation only continues to get worse. While this government puts all of its energy into passing legislation that will benefit one Ontario construction company, more and more patients in Thunder Bay are getting care on gurneys in alcoves and waiting areas because every bed in their hospital is full. Is this the government’s idea of transforming health care in the north?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: As the Premier said earlier, it is possible to do more than one thing at the same time, and that’s what our government is doing. The member opposite knows that we’re really working hard to improve care across the province, including Thunder Bay. In Thunder Bay, since 2003, we’ve built 668 new long-term-care beds. We’ve redeveloped 134 beds. Through the Centre of Excellence for Integrated Seniors’ Services, we are in the process now of constructing a 544-bed long-term-care home in Thunder Bay. We’re investing more in community care so that people can get the care they need in the most appropriate place— home, whenever possible.

I know that this is an issue that the North West LHIN and the people of Thunder Bay are working hard to resolve. We’re not there yet, but we’re on the way.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The reality is that hospital overcrowding is nothing new under this Liberal government. In Thunder Bay and across the province, hospitals are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Patients who should be in long-term-care facilities or getting care at home are stuck waiting in a hospital, while the patients who need to be in hospital beds are stuck waiting on gurneys in the hallways.

Will the Premier please tell us why her government is more focused on passing a bill to benefit one of their biggest donors than it is in meeting the health care needs of the people of Thunder Bay?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I think the leader of the third party would be interested to know about the progress that’s being made in Thunder Bay. The ALC rate in Thunder Bay regional—that’s the percentage of patients who are in hospital who could be and should be served elsewhere. There’s been a 38% reduction in ALC patients between September 2010 and April of this year. We’ve also seen an increase of 25% in discharges to the community with supports. The right changes are being made.

This is a work in progress. The job is not done, but I can tell you that we are very much focused on reducing ALC pressures in Thunder Bay and making sure that the people in northwest Ontario get the care they need.

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