Hospitals and Other Health Providers Facing Growing Service Pressures

OHA Calls on All Parties to Aggressively Increase Funding for Community Services, Especially Mental Health and Addictions

TORONTO, May 28, 2014 /CNW/ - Ontario's health care system is facing significant challenges, and given how interdependent the health system is, it is essential to immediately implement province-wide capacity planning, including hospital based care, and aggressively increase funding for community services, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) said today.

"While there is always more work to do, Ontario's hospitals have become highly efficient in recent years," said Anthony Dale, President and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association. "At the same time, they continue to experience growing demands for service and relentless pressure to bend down the rate of cost growth. Under these circumstances, it is essential that all Parties commit to aggressively creating much greater capacity in health services outside of hospitals in order to ease pressures on emergency rooms and reduce wait times for discharge from hospitals."

For nearly a decade, Ontario's hospitals and their partners have been working to address the needs of patients identified as requiring alternate levels of care (ALC). And while considerable gains have been made in bringing patients the right kinds of care, there are still on average, 4,000 patients on any given day waiting to receive the care they need in another, more appropriate setting.

In addition, today's ALC challenge is very different from what was first identified as a growing problem in 2006. This is due to the increasingly complex nature of these patients' needs. Evidence demonstrates that a growing number of ALC patients have mental health and addiction conditions and require care solutions that are best delivered outside of the hospital setting.  Examples include:

  • Round-the-clock behavioural support programs in long-term care and community settings,
  • Housing and social services,
  • Education and income supports, and
  • Over-arching prevention strategies.

Because these needs have not been appropriately planned for, they are not always available and so many clients and patients remain in hospital not receiving the right types of care that they need. As a result, Ontario's health care system increasingly runs the risk of increased congestion within emergency departments and longer wait times for discharge.  Health system performance data directly suggests that these challenges only stand to grow over time if not addressed imminently.

Expanding funding and capacity for the right kinds of community support services is what is needed to ensure that Ontarians can get the best possible care where and when they need it.

"Ontario's hospitals want to build on the work that is being done today and continue to transform the health care system by looking to the future and planning for services based on the actual needs of people at the local, regional and provincial levels," said Marcia Visser, Chair of the OHA.  "Capacity planning is a building block for the future and it needs to be put in place today."

To read more about the OHA's health system policy ideas and recommendations, visit www.oha.com/letstalksolutions.

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The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) is the voice of Ontario's public hospitals.  Founded in 1924, the OHA uses advocacy, education and partnerships to build a strong, innovative and sustainable health care system for all Ontarians.

A data analysis of Ontario's alternate level of care (ALC) challenges is available at www.oha.com/eralc.

SOURCE: Ontario Hospital Association

For further information:

Amy Clark, OHA Public Affairs
416-205-1433; aclark@oha.com


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