Updated

Province can't deny hospital overcrowding anymore, NDP claims

After seeing patients waiting for care in a visitor’s lounge on a recent visit to Sudbury’s hospital, NDP Health Critic France Gelinas filed a Freedom of Information request to see what the numbers actually are at the province’s 152 hospitals.

'Political games by the NDP do a disservice to our front-line health care workers': Minister Eric Hoskins

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas is taking the province to task on the issue of overcrowding in Ontario hospitals. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

NDP Health Critic France Gelinas suspected Ontario's hospitals were getting a little too crowded.

And after seeing patients waiting for care in a visitor's lounge on a recent visit to Sudbury's hospital, she filed a Freedom of Information request to see what the numbers actually show at the province's 152 hospitals.

The numbers shocked her.

"I knew it was bad," Gelinas said, "I knew our hospitals were overcrowded, but I never thought it was that bad."

Gelinas said she now has proof that most hospitals in the province don't have the capacity to deal with the number of patients they admit, and regularly have been operating at between 94 and 99 per cent capacity since 2012.

"For a hospital to provide quality care they can't have more than 85 per cent occupancy or there will be problems with admitting, problems with surgery, or other issues," Gelinas said.

NDP MPP France Gelinas says she now has proof that most hospitals in the province don't have the capacity to deal with the number of patients they admit. She says hospitals have been routinely operating at between 94 and 99 per cent capacity since 2012. (Roger Corriveau CBC)
I should not be able to see things like this when I walk in a hospital. People should have their privacy, little bit of self dignity.- France Gelinas

The document shows that large regional centres, like Sudbury's, suffer from the most crowded conditions. Small rural centres' capacities fluctuate, while large specialized hospitals tend to be under the provincial average.

Gelinas says she wants the Minister of Health to at least admit there is a problem.

In an email to CBC News, Health Minister Eric Hoskins says the statistics to which Gelinas is referring are nearly a year old. 

"We understand that more work needs to be done, but the political games by the NDP do a disservice to our front-line health care workers," Hoskins said.

"Last week, the NDP misrepresented the Auditor General's statistics on Ontario's hospital occupancy — and now the NDP is using outdated statistics to try and score political points."

Home care system 'broken'

Hoskins noted that in the last year, the Liberals have worked with Health Sciences North to reduce occupancy rates at the hospital by 4 per cent.

"The Auditor also noted that nine-out-of-10 emergency room patients are treated and discharged within the ministry target times," he continued.

"Both the Fraser Institute and Wait Time Alliance have consistently ranked Ontario as having some of the shortest wait times in Canada. Health Quality Ontario also notes that people are seeing doctors more quickly upon arriving in emergency departments and overall their wait times are shorter. Meanwhile, the Ontario NDP voted against a $345 million increase to hospital funding in the 2016 Budget."

Gelinas said one solution to hospital overcapacity is to fix the home care system, which she claims is broken.

In the meantime, she says she remains witness to poor quality care at Sudbury's hospital.

"[On a recent visit to Sudbury's hospital] I saw people sitting on a commode as I'm walking by," Gelinas said, " This is not good quality care. I should not be able to see things like this when I walk in a hospital. People should have their privacy, a little bit of self dignity."

"It doesn't matter how hard they work, [staff] can not provide quality care," Gelinas said, "hallway nursing will never be quality care no matter how hard this nurse works... [they] can not provide quality care in a hallway, [or] in a broom closet."

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