Shorter hospital stays worry P.E.I. coalition

The P.E.I. Health Coalition is concerned about Health PEI's plan to reduce the length of hospital stays.
There should be more hospital beds on P.E.I., says Mary Boyd. (CBC)

The P.E.I. Health Coalition is concerned about Health PEI's plan to reduce the length of hospital stays.

In its annual report, Health PEI said the average hospital stay is three days longer than modern benchmarks say these should be. The agency has set a goal to reduce that to one day over the benchmarks this year.

P.E.I. Health Coalition chair Mary Boyd is worried, because of this new policy, patients will be sent home after a pre-set amount of time, instead of when a doctor or nurse thinks it's safe.

"We can't be pushing people out of the hospital," said Boyd.

"Health care by its very nature calls for compassionate people and compassionate decisions. And who best to make those decisions but the doctors and the nurses?"

Boyd points to recent statistics showing Canada has half as many acute care beds per capita compared to the OECD average. She believes P.E.I. should be adding more hospital beds.

Home care can prevent hospital visits, says group

If patients are to be sent home sooner, Boyd said there should be sufficient home care to provide support after they leave the hospital.

The province is looking at new home care programs, says Health Minister Doug Currie. (CBC)

Health Minister Doug Currie said the province is considering new home care programs as a way to free up more acute care hospital beds.

The Patients' Association of Canada, which advocates on behalf of hospital patients, says P.E.I. could do more than just shorten hospital stays with more home care. It could prevent some hospital stays altogether.

"You need a lot more support for services so you can avert the acute episode," said association president Sholom Glouberman.

"The other thing is that there is also not enough support for caregivers. So a lot of times people go into hospital because the caregivers get exhausted. We have to support not only the patients but the families that are taking care of them outside the hospital."

Currie said one of the options the province is exploring is a home care system called Home First, which could include financial compensation for families that allow relatives to convalesce at home rather than in hospital.