Islanders shouldn't have to wait in hospital for a bed to open up in a long-term care facility, according to P.E.I.'s standing committee on health & wellness.

On Friday, the all-party committee delivered a recommendation for a pilot project to move those patients into temporary beds in private long-term facilities until a permanent manor bed becomes available.

According to the province, there are currently 57 patients in Island hospitals who have been medically discharged but remain in acute care, waiting for a vacancy in one of the province's 1,141 licensed long-term care beds.

"We want to open up that bed in the hospital, there's people that are waiting to get into those [acute care] beds," said PC MLA Sidney MacEwen, a committee member who also raised the issue during question period recently.

MacEwen also said a hospital is the wrong environment for someone waiting to be placed into long-term care.

'Very worthy to explore'

Hospital staff do their best, he said, "but they can't provide the services [of] a long-term care facility, you know the social aspect, the meal aspect, the extra care, the visitors that they get in a long-term care facility, all those programs can't be provided in a hospital."

P.E.I.'s Minister of Health and Wellness Robert Henderson said moving those patients to a private facility "is an idea that I think is very worthy to explore."

Robert Henderson

Henderson said a review of long-term care in the province will be delivered in the spring of 2018. (CBC)

Henderson said the move could help create a "pressure relief valve" in the system which would ease capacity issues with regards to acute care beds, while getting patients assessed for long-term care where they should be.

Henderson said a review of long-term care in the province will be delivered in the spring of 2018.

Patients paid almost a million dollars last year

Those Islanders waiting in hospital for long-term care are also having to pay out of pocket to be there. Health PEI says once they're medically discharged, they're charged the same rate they would pay if they were in a long-term care facility.

Last year, Health PEI took in $971,454.68 in revenue this way.

"Here we are not licensing beds, but yet government is making almost a million dollars a year from people that are paying to be in hospital." — Sidney MacEwen, PC MLA 

MacEwen said if people waiting for long-term care are required to pay, they should be receiving the level of care that's appropriate for them.

He also said he's worried those patients have become a revenue stream for Health PEI.

"Here we are not licensing beds, but yet government is making almost a million dollars a year from people that are paying to be in hospital. It doesn't make sense to me. That money should be going toward a long-term care facility."