The media are saying that you are opening beds for long-term care patients but closing beds that are used for surgeries. They say it might cause backlogs in elective surgeries and ER wait times. Why was this decision taken?

Anonymous, Montreal

Beds for long-term care patientsQuestion: The media are saying that you are opening beds for long-term care patients but closing beds that are used for surgeries. They say it might cause backlogs in elective surgeries and ER wait times. Why was this decision taken?

Answer: In order to understand the complexity of this situation, there are a few details to contextualize beforehand.

There are two types of care given to patients in healthcare facilities. The first is active care, or care directed immediately to the cure of a disease or injury. The second, end-of-active care, is given to patients who have finished receiving treatment for their disease or injury but are not yet able to return home and live independently. 

With the transformations occurring within the health care network of Quebec, the government has asked the MUHC to concentrate on providing care for the most complex of active cases. Once active care is complete, they must then be relocated to another, more community-based health care facility that is equipped and budgeted to provide long term care (i.e. a Centre Hospitalier de Soins de Longue Durée (CHSLD), Resource Intermédiare (RI) or Résidence de type familiale (RTF).

This is a positive change: the patient is getting the best possible care at the most appropriate location.

The current reality is that facilities who are meant to admit MUHC patients who have reached end-of-active care do not always have the space to do so. As such, the MUHC continues to care for these patients until we can place them in another facility. This, in turn, causes a backlog in the number of new patients we can take in at a time, since we can only admit new patients to beds that are empty.

The government is working hard with all players in the network to free up more end-of-active care beds in other network institutions. In the meantime, as a temporary solution to this problem, it has given the MUHC the go-ahead to open a 20-bed unit at the Montreal General Hospital to care for these patients while they await transfer.

The government has provided funding for this unit for a period of three months (end October). This allows the MUHC to

  1. free up the beds that are presently being occupied by these patients so it can provide active care to those in need
  2. provide these patients with an environment more suitable for their level of care, while transfer to a more appropriate institution within the healthcare network is facilitated by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS).

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