Ontario Hospital Association Welcomes Investments in Emergency Services, Nursing and E-Health

    Budget Silent on Inflationary Relief to Help Hospitals Balance Budgets

    TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - The 2008 Ontario Budget makes important
investments in emergency services, nursing and e-Health, but further action
and information is needed to ensure that Ontario's hospitals and their health
system partners can address inflationary pressures and meet the needs of a
growing and aging population, said Tom Closson, President and CEO of the
Ontario Hospital Association (OHA).
    "We welcome the government's initiative to reduce wait times in emergency
departments and look forward to working collaboratively on its
implementation," said Closson. "At the same time, short and long term measures
are needed to address the growing challenge of alternative level of care
patients (ALC), including comprehensive local health system capacity planning,
if Ontario is to make meaningful reductions in emergency department wait times
for patients."
    An ALC patient is a person that has finished receiving care in an acute
care hospital setting but remains in hospital because he or she cannot be
discharged to another more appropriate form of care. Currently, 20 percent of
Ontario's acute care hospital beds are occupied by ALC patients. This
occupancy rate has climbed significantly over the past eighteen months and is
impacting the ability of hospitals to admit patients through their emergency
    The 2008 Ontario Budget does not offer additional information to
hospitals that are working to balance their budgets in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
    "Ontario's hospitals are among the most efficient anywhere, but
inflation-related costs are significantly higher than the funding increases
announced to date," said Closson. "This fact is making it difficult for
hospitals to balance their budgets while protecting patient services. We plan
to work closely with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to better
understand what the budget means for these hospitals, and how it will affect
hospitals' ongoing accountability agreement negotiations with Local Health
Integration Networks."
    The OHA welcomes the commitments to hire 9000 more nurses by 2011-12 and
continue the New Nursing Graduate Job Guarantee initiative.
    "Ontario's patients value the skill and commitment that nurses bring to
their jobs," said Closson. "We will work with HealthForceOntario to ensure
that Ontario continues to offers nurses the opportunity to meet their personal
and professional goals."
    The OHA supports the government's Budget investment of significant new
resources in information and communications technology, and diagnostic
equipment, in the delivery of health care services.
    "Ontario's hospitals believe that the use of e-health technology can
revolutionize the way that care is provided to patients and we believe that
the commitment announced today is a strong first step," said Closson. "We look
forward to working with the government to ensure that an electronic health
care record is developed and in place by 2015 as promised in the 2007 Ontario
general election campaign."

For further information:

For further information: OHA Public Affairs, (416) 205-1305

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