The Ontario government has released the next phase of its “Plan to Stay Open” ahead of what they say will likely be an increase in respiratory illnesses in the coming months.
The plan focuses on the “stability and recovery of the health care system” and aims to add thousands of health workers and free up hospital beds. Officials say these additions will help reduce the burden on the broader health system, which has come under severe pressure in recent months from staff shortages.
“Historically, fall and winter are when cases of respiratory illnesses spike, putting pressure on emergency departments, hospitals and the broader health system, including long-term care,” the document reads. of 18 pages published on Thursday.
“This year will also include Omicron. To cope with current pressures, make further progress with surgery delays and be adequately prepared for any winter surge ahead, we must do more.”
LONG-TERM CARE RESIDENTS TRANSFERRED TO ALTERNATIVE HOMES
The Progressive Conservative government will introduce legislation that will allow elderly patients in hospital waiting to be placed in a long-term care home to be transferred to an alternative facility, possibly in a different community, until their preferred location opens.
Officials say this new policy will free up 250 hospital beds in the first six months.
The government said “compulsory guidelines” will be used to ensure patients remain close to loved ones and that there are no additional costs; however, few details were provided on what those guidelines entail.
Long-term care beds reserved for COVID-19 isolation will also be available in late summer. Officials say this decision was made based on the advice of the medical director of health and will free up 1,000 beds within six months.
They also hope to expand a program that allows paramedics to transport patients to a location other than an emergency room or treat them on the spot. The government says a pilot program showed that 94 percent of patients avoided the emergency department in the days after treatment.
The plan specifies that these policies will “free up” or “make available” hospital beds rather than create new ones.
ADD MORE HEALTH WORKERS
The PCs commit to adding up to 6,000 more healthcare workers to the Ontario system.
To do this, the government will temporarily cover the costs of examinations, applications and registration fees for retired and internationally trained nurses, something they say will lower financial barriers and save workers around $1,500.
It is unclear how much this will cost taxpayers.
The “Plan to Stay Open” was unveiled at the end of March as a strategy to “build a stronger and more resilient health system that is better prepared to respond to the crisis.”
It included a permanent salary increase for personal support workers, the creation of two new medical schools, a financial investment in nursing programs, the reinforcement of the national production of personal protective equipment and the creation of 3,000 new hospital beds during the next decade.
This is breaking news. More to come.