More beds needed but… communities are lacking facilities

guest editorial

Guest Editorial; Rev. Rita Harrison, Vernon

In my role as a parish priest in Vernon, I regularly visit people in Vernon Jubilee Hospital.  I applaud the people at the hospital who do a wonderful job.  However, I do not believe the hospital needs more beds. Instead, we need more beds and accommodations outside of the hospital.

Many of the people in hospital are there because the community lacks facilities for them in places that would be more appropriate.

I visit people who are dying and do not need the acute care of a hospital.

They need a quiet place, like a hospice, in which they can receive the care they need to be comfortable as they live out their last days.

Others are recovering from broken bones and orthopedic surgery, and need to be moved to facilities where they can receive the physiotherapy and pain management they need until they can return home. However, in the absence of space, these folks are left in acute care in hospital.

Still others have arrived in hospital after a fall, heart attack, or other sudden event which has left them unable to return to living independently (the event may have impaired their physical abilities or triggered dementia, so they would be unsafe alone).

These people can spend weeks, or even months, in acute care beds while waiting for placement in a suitable facility.

In almost all of these cases, the acute care beds of a hospital are not the right place.

Staying in hospital leaves such people open to infection. Plus, they are in a noisy setting where real rest is difficult. Because the community lacks facilities for people outside the hospital, they end up in acute care beds.

This situation is costly – in both financial and human terms:  acute care beds are far more expensive to operate than spaces in a hospice, rehabilitation facility, or care home.

People unnecessarily using acute care beds are getting less-than-ideal care.  Moreover, their use of those spaces gets in the way of people who really need the beds.

We don’t need more hospital beds.  We need more outside-of-hospital beds.