The New Brunswick government's new strategy for long-termhealth careincludes $7milliona year for more special-care home beds, especially in urban areas with longer waiting lists, it was announced Monday.
Hospitals across the province have been complaining about the number of patients, particularly seniors, taking up hospital beds needed for acute care patients.
Mary Schryer, minister of state for seniors, said the new strategy, to be put into practice in November, also includes a response team designed to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and increased home support care.
"The No. 1 phrase I hear is 'I want to stay home,'" Schryer said. "By enhancing home care we want to be able to give the residents of New Brunswick an alternative to a nursing home."
Health Minister Mike Murphy acknowledged during the announcement that the problem has been growing. He said there are 168 patients at the Saint John Regional Hospital who belong elsewhere, 68 at the Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, and 111 at Moncton's two hospitals.
"They deserve dignity, those individuals, and we want to ensure that they are placed in the most appropriate care," Murphy said.
Murphy said the solution will cost the provincial government $7 million a year, $1.8 million from the Department of Health and the rest from Schryer's department.
In addition to expanding home support care, the government will license more than100 additional special-care home beds, and set up 11 emergency care beds in special-care homes.
Mary Lee, vice-president of acute care for the Southeast Regional Health Authority, said that at any given time, the Moncton Hospital has about 75 patients who should be moved to a nursing home.
"It's equating to two full wards that are full of patients who could be in our beds for quite a long period of time waiting to move out."
The Georges Dumont Hospital is dealing with similar numbers.
"At this point, it's probably the worst that we've ever seen in the last four years," said Lise Guerette Daigle, vice-president of nursing and patient programs for the Beausejour Health Authority.
"If we look back at 2004 statistics, we might have had maybe half the number of patients in the hospital we have now waiting for a nursing home bed."
Mary Schryer is New Brunswick's minister of state for seniors and minister of state for housing, not minister of family and community services as originally reported. Miramichi Bay-Neguac MLA Carmel Robichaud holds that portfolio.Aug 20, 2007 12:40 PM AT