About half of Nova Scotia's health-care sites over capacity

IAN FAIRCLOUGH ifairclough@saltwire.com @iancfairclough

2022-11-22T08:00:00.0000000Z

2022-11-22T08:00:00.0000000Z

SaltWire Network

https://saltwire.pressreader.com/article/281535114991720

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just It's not the Halifax Infirmary that is dealing with overcapacity issues. Earlier this month, the hospital reported that it was at 103 per cent capacity, and expected to be “seriously overcapacity” through the weekend. It warned that people should expect long waits in the emergency room if they have to go, with 31 of 44 beds in the ER at that point filled with people who had been admitted but for whom no inpatient beds were available. As of midnight Wednesday, Nov. 9, the Halifax number had dropped to 99 per cent, but was still far above the ideal threshold of 85 per cent that Nova Scotia Health says allows it the ability to deal with any sudden surge in admissions or staff shortages. The Dartmouth General was at 109 per cent, and all other sites in the Central Health Zone except the IWK (72.4 per cent) were over 85 per cent. The Twin Oakes, Musquodoboit Valley and Eastern Shore memorial hospitals were each at 100 per cent, while the Hants Community Hospital was at 95.7 per cent. But it's not just a Halifax problem. Almost half of 33 hospital sites and health centres in the province were at more than 100 per cent of their capacity, and only nine were under 85 per cent. WESTERN ZONE Only one of nine sites in the Western Health Zone — the Annapolis Community Health Centre — was below the threshold at 83.3 per cent, while five were over 100 per cent, including Queens General Hospital at 122.7 per cent. Roseway Hospital in Shelburne was at 115.8 per cent, while the South Shore Regional Hospital was at 113.6 per cent, Fisherman's Memorial was at 102.2 per cent, and Valley Regional was at 100. The other two sites were just under 100 per cent, with Soldiers Memorial at 98.4 per cent and Digby General at 97. NORTHERN ZONE In the northern zone, no site was under 85 per cent. Lillian Fraser Memorial had been the only one on Nov. 8 at 70 per cent, but it was 90 per cent 24 hours later. The Colchester East Hants Health Centre, at 102.5 per cent, and Bayview Memorial, at 100, were the highest, while Sutherland Harris Memorial was at 97.4 per cent and Aberdeen was at 96.9. Cumberland Regional was next at 95 per cent, South Cumberland Community Care Centre was at 93.8 per cent and All Saints Springhill Hospital was at 88.0 per cent. EASTERN ZONE The Eastern Zone had the best numbers, where only three sites — St. Martha's Regional Hospital in Antigonish at 101.1, Victoria County Memorial at 100 and the Cape Breton Heath Complex at 94.6 — were above 85 per cent capacity. The Health Complex includes the Cape Breton Regional, Northside General, New Waterford Consolidated and Glace Bay hospitals. Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital was at 71.9 per cent, Sacred Heart Community Health Centre was at 70 per cent, and Saint Mary's Memorial was at 66.7 per cent. The remainder of sites in the zone were low, with Guysborough Memorial at 60 per cent, Strait Richmond Hospital at 53.8, Buchanan Memorial Community Health Centre at 40 per cent and Eastern Memorial Hospital at 16.7 per cent. No one from Nova Scotia Health was available to speak as of deadline. On Nov. 8, Mary-Lynn Watson, the interim medical site lead for the QEII and also an emergency room physician, said the ER overcrowding there is a result of system and hospital overcrowding, with the flow from the ER to inpatient care disrupted because of the lack of people being discharged. Capacity is a measure against how many beds are available in a hospital not because how many are at a site, if there is a staffing shortage, beds that may be physically available aren't actually staffed, so they're not able to be used to increase capacity. Watson said there wasn't a particular reason for the overcapacity, such as an increase in flu cases, although that is expected to come in the next few weeks. At this point, she said, it is a result of complexity and acuity of the patients in hospital being higher, and staffing issues. NUMBERS 'BAD SIGN ALL AROUND' Alexandra Rose, the provincial co-ordinator of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition, said Nov. 10 that “we're disappointed but not surprised by these continuous rising numbers. Healthcare workers have been overworked in hospitals and were barely keeping up even before the fall season… COVID never went away, and then you're adding in flu season and the rise of RSV cases in children.” The numbers are a bad sign all around, she said, and “you have to wonder, where does it come to a head? What has to happen before there is an intervention of some kind, because how much longer can our hospitals keep up with the imagine high rates? You have to it's not long.” She said the numbers show that the Nova Scotian are desperate and are paying the price for a broken system “that they didn't break.” More money from the federal government for health care would help, as provincial measures “are either not enough or not working fast enough.” But, she said, “the health care crisis will not be solved just by throwing money at it.” She said the health care system can hire all the people it wants, but until there's proper support in place, such as proper compensation, an acknowledgement that there needs to be a work-life balance, and time off and continuous on-the-job training, there will not be worker retention.

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