The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance has come a long way since the province took over management in fall, 2016, with great strides in managing money, improving staff morale and best practice outcomes in just about every department.
However, one area that hasn’t shown improvement is wait times for people in the Emergency Department in getting a hospital bed.
CKHA CEO Lori Marshall was very forthcoming in her recent update on CKHA ED wait times, citing the 13.5-hour average wait time as a statistic that very much needs to change.
“Hallway healthcare” as it’s being referred to, is a problem across the province and one that needs more than just one-time funding thrown at it.
The province has been investing in hospitals to improve wait times for beds, including the announcement of $302,000 to open up five beds at CKHA during the flu season from December to March. Five beds, however, seems like a pittance compared to the number of people more susceptible to severe flu symptoms such as our seniors and people with chronic illnesses.
With a higher-than-average population of seniors in a rural, widely spread municipality, health-care needs are different here than in London or Toronto. A lack of family doctors also means our ED is used more often during flu, especially when walk-in clinics are swamped.
Marshall had some good ideas regarding staffing and cleaning time and that will help, but there is a lot more creative thinking and frankly, funding that is needed to solve the problem.
Opening up the beds that are already there requires money for staffing and resources, and there are only so many places to make cuts before the well is dry. The big picture, which hopefully will be addressed if Chatham-Kent is successful in its application for an Ontario Health Team, requires everyone working towards the same goal without overlapping services gobbling up limited health-care dollars.
Faster, better service that meets the health needs of our entire community can be achieved with the right leaders and the right funding at the right time.
Now would a good time.