Patients transferred, surgeries postponed due to bed shortage

Cory Hurley
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CORNER BROOK — Western Health has had to postpone medical procedures and transfer patients to another facility to accommodate a shortage of beds at Western Memorial Regional Hospital.

Cynthia Davis, vice-president of patient services, said the hospital is currently experiencing more admissions through the emergency department and scheduled surgical procedures than the number of discharges — what she referred to as an overcapacity in acute care.

“All of the acute care beds are full, our intensive care unit is full, and we have people down in the emergency department waiting to be admitted,” she said.

Davis said a review of all patients within the hospital is done to determine whether support care can be provided in another location or for discharge. This includes transferring patients to another facility within the region — whether it be between acute-care facilities or an acute-care patient waiting for a long-term care bed.

“We look at this in terms of trying to match the care needs of the people who are currently at Western Memorial and balance that with the people who need to be admitted into hospital because they are acutely ill,” she said.

Last week, staff began meeting with patients and their families to advise them of the situation. As of Tuesday afternoon, five patients had been transferred to the Bay St. George Long-Term Care in Stephenville Crossing. Another patient transfer was pending.

Davis said the moves freed up some beds and allowed them to continue with some of the surgical procedures that were scheduled. She said surgeons and doctors were also alerted on the situation, asking them — where possible — to switch surgical procedures to day procedures.

Despite that, a number of surgeries did not go ahead as scheduled. Davis said they were being rescheduled this week or next week.

She acknowledges it is a difficult situation, and a stressful one for patients and their families.

“We try and support the patient and their families by giving them the information up front,” she said.

“Then, when we reach a point that we have to do it, we try to put all the mechanisms in place to make that transition to that temporary location as smoothly as possible.”

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Stephenville Crossing

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Recent comments

  • Marie Hynes
    January 15, 2014 - 22:37

    I cannot believe my aunt Alice Hinks is being put out to pasture, where are our elected officials when we need them to see the heartache caused by such a red tape decision. This lady never took from the system once in her life, gave up all that was dear to her to devote the rest of her life to raising a family after being left a young widow. She now is at the mercy of the system who dictates what happens to the rest of her life and where she will spend it. DEPLORABLE..

  • george p b
    January 15, 2014 - 10:19

    It is a mystery to me that Newfoundlanders tolerate third world health care--beyond the ring road around St John's, that is....Yet there is $$$ for artificial turf playing fields...What a great province....

  • Dara Walsh
    January 15, 2014 - 10:08

    This is why the 'new hospital' should have been started long ago. Any person could look at the past census of Western Newfoundland and predict the need for more long term care facilities/beds within the Corner Brook Area. So while long term care patients need medical care and have no where else to go, Western Memorial Regional Hospital is overfilled and in crisis mode. The facility can not handle there regular intake of non-acute care patients. This should be of concern to all residents of the area as it will be them and their families that will feel the blunt of such poor decision making.

    • Wayne R Bennett
      January 15, 2014 - 16:16

      When the new Long Term Care facility was constructed it was decided at that time to add an additional floor. Unfortunately that addition was not enough to address the growing aging population. At the time of the opening of the new Long Term Care Facility (yet unnamed), the LTC beds at the O'Connell Centre were closed. I would suggest that the O'Connell Centre, with its associate DVA Suite, be reopened. The other question is what are the future plans for the current Western? I would suggest that it be converted to a Long Term Care Facility when the new hospital is open. I do not feel that limited funds need be expended to build a new facility with 100 Long Term Care beds adjacent to the new hospital.

  • Todd Hinks
    January 15, 2014 - 06:43

    As i appreciate what was said above. The elderly patients are the ones having to suffer with a move because of the hospitals mistake. Its not the patients fault there are no beds but they are the ones who are the scapegoats...My mom is scheduled to be moved today at 11 am. Unlike other patients, i feel that she is not able to handle such a move...i can be reached at 639-0102 for further comment...

    • iris
      January 16, 2014 - 09:30

      I think has families of elders we have to speak on there behalf,but we have to understand the situation of the hospital. we went threw the same thing with my father in-law, waiting for long term care. we looked at the situation that what about if someones kids needed a bed and knowing that our elder was taken the space and there was care for them else where. i hope things work for your mom and the family. good luck, wish all the best.