New Brunswick

50 hospital patients waiting for nursing home beds have been transferred, says province

Another 15 have yet to be moved to reach COVID-19 preparation target

Another 15 have yet to be moved to reach COVID-19 preparation target

So far 50 alternate care patients have been transferred to nursing homes, just 15 short of the province's goal. (CBC)

Less than a week after announcing its COVID-19 preparation plan to free up 65 hospital beds by moving patients into nursing homes, the province says it has transferred 50.

That number came from chief medical health officer Dr. Jennifer Russell at Monday's COVID-19 briefing.

That means the province is just 15 short of its goal, but the Campbellton Nursing Home says it will be taking six transfers within the next two weeks.

"It's steady progress," said Campbellton Nursing Home trustee Tom Mann.


Victor Shea, CEO of the Kenneth E. Spencer Memorial Home in Moncton says his facility received 5 hospital transfers on Friday, three yesterday, and one this morning. "And there's another bunch to come," he said. "We're trying to get people out of the hospital."

Spencer says it helped that the province allowed patients to be moved within a larger radius -- up to 100 km from their original address and that patients could be moved to the first available bed, rather than having to wait to find a bed in the home of their top choice.

"We're in the midst of an unprecedented situation,"he said.  

Shea says they're allowing one family member to come into the nursing home to help each new arrival get settled. He said settling four patients in a single day is an onerous job. "But they're settling nicely," he said.

Shea says they now have about 190 beds occupied and should be near capacity within the next few days.

The Atlantic Baptist Senior Citizens Home in Moncton has also been identified by the nursing home association, as a recipient of recently transferred alternate care patients, or ALCs.

These are patients who have been assessed as needing the kind of round the clock care that nursing homes can provide, but these patients have been waiting, sometimes many months, to get a space.

Nursing homes stretched 

Nursing home operators across New Brunswick have long struggled to recruit and retain enough staff to run at their full capacity.

The problem was highlighted last November, when the Campbellton Regional Hospital reported having 40 patients in its hallways while the Campbellton Nursing Home reported having about 40 empty beds.

Campbellton is licensed for 100 beds but Mann says those would be in rooms that used to be designated as double occupancy. He says it's safer and more practical to aim for 85 occupied beds.

When the anticipated six transfers are completed early next month, 72 beds will be occupied.

Making gains

He says finding qualified staff has required steady effort. 

 "We've had some internationally educated staff who have come and decided not to stay," said Mann.

"But we continued to recruit and we had two arrive Friday night from Montreal and another four arriving in the next ten days."

Mann says he's made gains in registered nurses, dietary staff, and resident assistants.

As of February, 741 people were waiting to be placed in one of New Brunswick's nursing homes, 432 of them were occupying hospital beds.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Cave is a CBC reporter based in Saint John, New Brunswick.

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