Sault MPP Ross Romano is calling the provincial government’s Bill 7 a step in the right direction for patients waiting for long term care beds.
Under the new legislation, hospital patients in Alternate Level of Care - ALC - awaiting placement in their preferred long term care home can be moved to a LTC facility not of their choosing in order to free up bed space for hospital patients needing acute care.
As a result, patients in southern Ontario could be moved to a LTC home up to 70 kilometres away from their families, while those in northern Ontario may be moved up to 150 kilometres away.
As reported earlier, Algoma - Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha and his fellow New Democrats oppose the new law.
“This is hurting our families and what’s going to end up happening is people are going to end up dying away from home, away from their families. That's the scary part about all of this,” Mantha said.
However, Romano, in a recent interview with SooToday, said “there is no one being moved against their will.”
“We’re going to work to ensure we’re keeping families together. We’re going to ensure that this is done in a very respectful way. No one is going to move a patient into an area where they don’t have the support that they’re going to need.”
“We have said from the beginning no one is being forced to move to a location that they do not wish to be forced to move to and the hospital is assuring that they also will be working very closely with patients and families to ensure that their need for care and wants are being addressed,” Romano said.
As of September 21, Sault Area Hospital had 61 patients who are designated as ALC with 18 of those patients awaiting nursing home placement.
“Sault Area Hospital recognizes that difficult decisions must be made, however, we are committed to ensuring that this legislation is implemented in a compassionate and respectful way that aligns with our values,” wrote Rose Calibani, SAH communications and public affairs officer in an email to SooToday.
“Continued work with our patients and families will be ensured,” Calibani wrote.
Beginning on November 20, hospitals will be told to charge patients a daily fee of $400 if they have been discharged by a doctor and don’t agree to being moved to a long term care home not of their choice.
Such fees were put in place in the late 1970s, Romano said, emphasizing any move into a long term care home not of a patient’s choosing would be a temporary one due to the number of new or upgraded LTC beds the province is spending money on.
While acknowledging some ALC patients may be asked if they want to take a long term care bed not of their choosing, Romano said those patients won’t have to wait for long to have a bed in a place where they would prefer to be due to government spending on LTC beds.
Romano pointed to the government’s announcement in March 2021 of 96 new beds for the Batchewana First Nation Long Term Care Home and, in April 2022, 192 new beds for the Missanabie Cree-Maskwa Elder’s Care Home.
That home will have half of its beds dedicated to Indigenous elders, the other half open to all area residents.
“If you look at what we have happening in our community of Sault Ste. Marie, we have created 376 new beds and upgraded 160 beds. We have one of the shortest wait lists in the province.”
“We have reduced the wait list significantly,” Romano said, stating the government’s new and updated long term care beds are either in development, under construction or completed.
He added there are 167 people on the long term care home wait list in the Sault and area, down from approximately 700 four years ago.
“By having these new beds coming online within the next couple of years that will resolve our issues with wait lists.”
“I think we have to look at the facts. The facts are that we have a number of individuals who are in ALC beds that can’t receive the care they need in those beds. Those individuals require a long term care bed and what this measure is designed to do is to allow for those individuals to be moved into a proper level of care with their consent,” Romano said.
“When a person is in an ALC bed they are not getting the right level of care.There’s no access to programming and much needed help they require. A long term care home is a more appropriate setting. We want to bring these people to the care that they need.”
“Our local hospital is confirming that this is a temporary measure, that this is going to help that flow in ALC beds to ensure that people who need them can get them and that seniors can get the care they need in a proper setting. That is what this is designed to do,” Romano said.