Friday, February 28, 2014

Pushed out of hospital, abandoned at home, elderly and frail neglected?

Mary Cook, Press Conference
Reporter: Desmond Devoy takes notes!
I attended a press conference, held by Mary Cook, and jointly sponsored by the OCHU and the Ontario Association of Speech and Language Pathologists. I was curious about this report, paid for by these two unions.

The purpose of the sparsely attended press conference in Perth (four of us: myself, Devoy, a hospital employee and another individual), was to highlight this report.

The researchers saw a pattern of stories, and "an inherent bias against the frail and elderly" in the impact of cuts to healthcare services. Unfortunately, frail seniors are not so much facing ageism, but a shortage of staff and funding, and being the most frequent consumers of healthcare, with ongoing complex comorbidities, they require the most support. Unfortunately, the report did not cite exemplary practices, nor any success stories. Nor do they explain: How are Ontario hospitals funded?

The report recommends:
  •  Reopening chronic and alternative level of care beds
  •  Funds must be reinvested in hospitals
  •  Put funding into care, not profit
  •  No rationing of care
  • Adequate home care
  • Better pay for PSWs.

What is missing and not addressed in this report

  • Better and consistent training for PSWs
  • Most (500+) of 600 long-term care in Ontario are for-profits
  • Successful practices and success stories in healthcare
  • How to find more funding for hospitals and home care
  • How to manage the new system of patient-based hospital funding
  • How to address the disparities in healthcare between rich and poor
  • How to address an $11 billion operating deficit, a $260 billion debt in Ontario healthcare
  • How to find, train, adequately pay, and fund more staff: nurses and PSWs.

Horror stores get all the press

LTC resident
As always, this report consolidates many horror stories that Ontario patients were happy to retell on the OCHU hotline created for this purpose. They asked individuals to call and tell about their personal experiences. They had about 600 calls from all over the province, about 150 originated from the Ottawa Valley. One story: an aging client was visited by 41 different personal support workers (PSW) over her time receiving care. There is no question we are short PSWs and nurses in Ontario.

I explained to Mary Cook that most of my hospice clients have experienced excellent services, well-trained employees, and successful treatments and care in both hospital and at home. This must be emphasized. We have a huge cadre of volunteers who provide support to family members, and ease their caregiving burdens.

Despite this, the report states:
Over 20 years the province has cut 19,000 hospital beds, many of them assess and restore and continuing care beds, once the mainstay of convalescent care for older patients. Today access to in-hospital restorative care and rehabilitation therapies is severely reduced and the promised "outpatient" services in the community and home are non-existent.
My late friend, Kay in LTC.
She found home care
insufficient for herself,
and her husband, at home.
This totally negates all of the good work professionals, such as Home Care workers, and hospital employees do in this province. My current client, with ALS, sees a physiotherapist who has given him 'homework', as he complained to me! During my husband's recent robotic prostatectomy, my ex-late husband's colon cancer treatment, and his subsequent heart attack and death, they received absolutely the best care at all chapters in their journey.

What is the solution?

CCACs are outsourcing to for-profit companies, like Bayshore, rather than providing direct services and employing their own cadre of nurses and support workers. Those with money hire services privately, further diluting the pool of healthcare workers available to provide public services.

What many find appalling are the huge salaries for CEOs and those who are highly placed in the LHINs, and running CCACs. Many are on the Ontario Healthcare Sunshine list, while hospital beds are being closed, and waiting lists are long for long-term care and home care services.

Ontario Healthcare Sunshine list

Windsor Regional HospitalMUSYJDAVIDPresident, Chief Executive Officer$275,380.57
Women's College HospitalEMERY,MARILYNPresident & Chief Executive Officer$426,611.54
University of Ottawa Heart InstituteROBERTS,ROBERTPresident & Chief Executive Officer$565,590.72
The Ottawa HospitalKITTSJOHN B.President / Président$630,485.00
The Ottawa HospitalACHARYA,VIRBALAPathologist / Pathologiste$473,927.19
Royal Ottawa Health Care GroupWEBER,GEORGEPresident and Chief Executive Officer$379,056.00
Perth & Smiths Falls District HospitalSTEPANUIK,TODDPresident & Chief Executive Officer$259,917.39
Not only this, but those with family fortunes to share can hire private 24/7 care, while CCACs limit budgets and cut services to clients who need home care. This family has donated money to allow professionals to buy a scan to enable early detection for Alzheimer's Disease.

It was a devastating car crash that marked the start of the spiral downward for Ottawa businessman Tony Graham. He had been turning off the highway onto an exit toward home when he struck a car that was stopped by the side of the road.

Today, 80-year-old Graham receives 24-hour nursing care in a specially built addition to the family’s home and is, according to his wife Elizabeth, in the final stages of the disease.
Local reporter, Desmond Devoy, wrote this article:

Perth - Health care system is failing our seniors, says report.

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