Windsor Star

Stop blaming seniors for system

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Re: Ensuring ‘ maximum access’ to hospital care, guest column, by Egidio Sovran and Warren Chant, Nov. 15.

I am writing to disagree with the letter from the chair of the board of directors and CEO of Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital. The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly provides legal advice to patients and their families dealing with first available bed and alternativ­e level of care (ALC.) issues on a daily basis.

What was described in the article is not a typical ALC. case. The patient was not stuck in hospital because of a lack of long-term care beds.

Rather, her son had a fundamenta­l difference in opinion as to the type of care required and appropriat­e place for that care.

Mr. Sovran and Mr. Chant say the Public Hospitals Act states that when a discharge order is made, a hospital shall discharge the patient. While true, this is only part of the picture.

A hospital also has a duty to those designated “ALC.” to not discharge until a bed is offered: This cannot take place until certain legal criteria are met.

Their letter goes on to state that the hospitals in that region have collaborat­ed on a “first available bed policy” whereby a person will be charged a rate of $600 for uninsured services if he or she does not comply with this policy.

The Long-Term Care Homes Act, which came into effect on July 1 of this year, does not allow hospitals to have first available bed policies. Patients in hospital are entitled to choice of homes and the legislatio­n does not allow hospitals or others to force choices on the person.

Further, the regulation­s to the Health Insurance Act dictate a maximum amount— $53.23—that a patient can be charged by the hospital while awaiting placement in a longterm care.

While it is not suggested that waiting in hospital for lengthy periods of time is necessaril­y in the best interest of the person, the letter suggested that others may be more worthy of the beds. We vehemently disagree with this position.

The letter states that “patients had arrived at the hospital that morning having fasted and otherwise prepared for their procedures.”

While this may be true, we argue that the imposition put on them to delay their surgeries for a short time if there is a lack of space is less than sending a person to live permanentl­y in a facility which cannot meet their needs and may contribute to a decline in health and, potentiall­y, death.

Unfortunat­ely, all long-term care homes are not equal and not appropriat­e for each person.

It is time for everyone to work together to resolve this situation, instead of blaming the senior for the ills of the system. JANE E. MEADUS, Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, Toronto

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