HHS sees staggering growth by 2034
Aging population driving rising demand for hundreds of beds
Hamilton Health Sciences is predicting a staggering growth in demand over the next 20 years.
HHS forecasts it will need 54 per cent more beds by 2034/35 in its submission to Ontario’s Ministry of Health and the Local Health Integration Network outlining its plan for the next 20 years.
It would bring the hospital network up to 1,845 beds from the 1,200 it has now.
When efficiency improvements and potential changes to the way the hospital cares for patients are taken into account, HHS still anticipates a need for at least 407 more beds — a 34 per cent increase.
“All of the data really frames the conversation about growth and capital development that HHS needs to have with the LHIN and the ministry,” said spokesperson Aaron Levo. “It’s actually cataloguing our growth and where we are at today in all our clinical areas and trying to anticipate planning for HHS.”
The biggest predicted growth in beds is for rehabilitation followed by neurosciences. Other big jumps in beds are for cardiac and vascular care, critical or intensive care and complex or chronic care.
“There is going to be an increasing demand for services driven by a rising and aging population,” said economist Livio Di Matteo, who is a professor at Lakehead University specializing in health. “I don’t think anyone will do anything until the crisis is at hand.”
HHS is using the predicted growth as the foundation for its 20-year plan. Its proposal would see Juravinski and Hamilton General renovated to become its two main acute care sites in Hamilton.
It would give McMaster University Medical Centre back to the university and build a new women and children’s hospital that would become part of the campus of Hamilton General. It would also leave St. Peter’s Hospital moving the patients and services to Hamilton
General and Juravinski.
West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby would be renovated and become a major day surgery centre with Hamilton patients going there for procedures.
Key to the plan is providing hospital services in the community instead at clinics, community organizations, doctors’ offices or even virtually.
“We want to help people not be in the hospital,” said Levo. “That is the goal.”
It’s also a way to try to cope with the predicted rise in demand over the next 20 years. Emergency room visits are expected to be up between 16 and 45 per cent. Day surgeries will increase between 10 and 32 per cent.
Every single HHS clinic in Hamilton is forecast to grow. The majority at Hamilton General and Juravinski will see demand rise by more than 40 per cent.
Only three Hamilton clinics predict growth less than 10 per cent at HHS, with the lowest being three per cent for maternal fetal medicine at MUMC. West Lincoln predicts demand for its obstetrics and gynecology clinic will actually go down by nine per cent in Grimsby.
There are 16 clinics at HHS that predict growth over 50 per cent. The need for palliative care at West Lincoln is predicted to increase by 76 per cent.
Di Matteo says the health care system is currently geared to acute care and doctors but to remain sustainable needs to shift to home care and other ways to help patients outside of hospital.
“There’s been some tinkering around the edges,” he says about the progress to date. “I think things are moving very slowly. It’s like the oil tanker in the ocean. It takes a long time to steer it.”