Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath blames Liberals for overcrowding at Grand River Hospital

Data obtained by the Ontario NDP through an FOI request shows Grand River Hospital operating beyond 100 per cent capacity from Sept. to Dec last year, but their party leader Andrea Horwath says the trends persist throughout the year.

Data obtained by the NDP shows hospital was operating above 100% capacity from Sept-Dec last year

Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario NDP, promises to create a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, if elected. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

With the provincial election looming, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath stood with MPP Catherine Fife in front of Grand River Hospital on Wednesday afternoon, saying new data obtained by the party indicates the facility was operating at beyond 100 per cent capacity from September to December 2017. 

"The Liberals have had 15 years to make hospital care a priority, but they continue to let Kitchener-Waterloo region families down," said Horwath.

'Top issue' Fife hears 

"People are waiting far too long for care – and too often, at Grand River and other hospitals, people wait only to end up on a gurney in a hallway instead of in a hospital bed," said Horwath.

Catherine Fife, the MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo, said long wait times and overcrowding at Grand River hospital is the "top issue" that her office hears about. 

Horwath was focussed on the pediatric mental health unit, which the NDP data showed reaching 120 per cent capacity in November 2017. She also pointed to the numbers in the surgery, stroke and medicine units — all of which were operating at over 100 per cent capacity from September to December. 

Overcrowding 'well before flu season hits' 

In an interview on March 22., Mark Karjaluoto, the director of communications at GRH told CBC News that "winters are typically busier for hospitals" because of causes such as respiratory tract infections, influenza, and "flip and falls that are common in the winter time."  

Data obtained by the Ontario NDP, showing the capacity of Grand River Hospital in respective units, from September to December of 2017. (Submitted by Ontario NDP )

Karjaluoto said the emergency department at GRH has been about 10 per cent busier this winter

"In our budget and operating plan, we have provided additional staffing and capacity for the latter half of our fiscal year (through the fall and winter) to respond to traditionally higher demand," he said. 

But Horwarth said the stats she obtained "are well before the flu season hits."

"Yes it's true, flu season causes surges, but these are the systemic issues that the surges have made them worse," she said.   

"Probably for December, January, February, when we get those stats, we'll see an even more serious situation."