Bed shortage could force Regina patients to distant towns

Some long-term care patients in Regina may end up in small communities, up to 150 kilometres away, due to a shortage of available beds in the city.
The Regina-Qu'Appelle health district is considering using long-term care space in outlying areas to ease bed shortage in Regina, Dean Gutheil reports. 2:05

Some long-term care patients in Regina may end up in communities up to 150 kilometres away, due to a shortage of available beds in the city.

The Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region said it is considering the option in the interest of patient safety because there is available space in outlying facilities.

Sandra Celentano's husband Joe is living at a Regina care home. She said, proximity to him is important. 

We want to keep seniors as close to home as possible.- Saskatchewan Health Minister Dustin Duncan

"I come to visit him everyday," Celentano told CBC News. "If I had to drive to Moose Jaw or Saskatoon or Prince Albert, I don't think that would be doable."

The health region is considering setting up people in facilities within a 150-kilometre radius of Regina.

Gretta Lynn Ell, an official with the region, said overcrowding a facility puts everyone at risk.

"It would be difficult to defend having code burgundy and having people lying in stretchers in hallways and yet having vacant beds out in rural," she told CBC News.

"We would never take someone from Regina and place them out in Moosomin," Ell added. "We would only be looking at maximum 150 kilometres, which is roughly about an hour and a half drive."

The province's health minister noted that health regions covering Saskatoon and Prince Albert are already using rural facilities, when the need arises.

Nevertheless, Dustin Duncan appreciates the concerns of families who want to be close by.

"The health regions always work with the families to try and find the proper placement for them," Duncan told CBC News. "We want to keep seniors as close to home as possible. In many cases these arrangements are on a temporary basis."

Winter driving adds to family stress, opposition says

NDP leader Cam Broten said moving people further from their loved ones only adds more stress to families coping with health issues.

"We think of Saskatchewan winters when roads aren't often that great," Broten said.

Officials with Regina's health region said they will decide next week if they will use rural facilities.

They estimated that 10 to 20 patients could be affected immediately if the policy is put in place.

(With files from CBC's Dean Gutheil)

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