- [Oh Oh]… Muskoka Hospital Says Patient Volumes Surge to 150 Per Cent Capacity
Courtesy of Barrie360.com and Canadian PressPublished: Oct 7th, 2023
By Allison Jones in Toronto
Patient volumes at a pair of hospitals in central Ontario have surged to as high as 150 per cent of its capacity, the health-care network is warning.
Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare said in a statement this week that beds are full at its hospitals in Huntsville, Ont., and Bracebridge, Ont.
“We are caring for admitted patients wherever we can find space to,” Diane George, vice president of integrated care, patient services and quality wrote in a statement.
“Our teams have been working incredibly hard under increased pressure in every department of the hospitals. We are not unlike many hospitals across the province grappling with dramatic surges and ongoing staffing challenges.”
Hospitals around Ontario have faced staffing shortages, with many forced to implement temporary emergency room closures as a result – an ER in Minden had to permanently close, and urgent care centres in two Niagara Region communities have stopped operating overnight.
Last year during the fall and winter respiratory virus season hospital capacity was acutely strained, particularly in children’s hospitals.
A spokesperson for Health Minister Sylvia Jones said the province is taking a number of steps to help ease strain on hospitals.
“We have increased our investment by $44 million this year to reduce emergency department wait times through local, innovative solutions, launched the Models of Care Innovation Fund to support innovative staffing models, allowing hospitals to use their staff to their full potential,” Hannah Jensen
wrote in a statement.
“Through our minor ailment initiative (allowing pharmacists to prescribe some medications) along with expanding 9-1-1 models of care (allowing paramedics to take patients to destinations other than an ER such as a mental health facility) we are ensuring patients can connect to the care they need while avoiding unnecessary trips to the emergency room.”
The Muskoka hospital says patients can help too by ensuring they make use of other options for care, when appropriate, such as a family doctor, community care or virtual options.
“Hospitals are unique in that the doors are always open and people are never turned away,” George wrote.
“Meanwhile the public can do its part to choose the most appropriate option for care in the right place at the right time by the right provider to conserve emergency department capacity for real emergencies.”
2) Health Ministers Wrap Up Meetings in P.E.I. With A Plan To Grow The Health Workforce
Courtesy of Barrie360.com and Canadian PressPublished: Oct 13th, 2023
Lyndsay Armstrong, The Canadian Press
The federal health minister says Canada intends to tackle its health workforce shortages by making it easier for nurses and doctors to practice in other provinces, streamlining credentials for internationally−trained health workers and through a new nursing retention program.
Mark Holland shared the strategies as he wrapped up two days of meetings with his provincial and territorial health minister counterparts in Prince Edward Island Thursday.
“Our plan for a strong and sustainable health workforce is one that is shared by all levels of government and dominated our conversations over the last two days,” Holland said during a news conference.
Holland said while there is much to be proud of in Canada’s health system, “it’s also really stretched.”
“And this is a time particularly in the workforce where we’re facing a crisis and where we have to rise to that occasion.”
The minister laid out a five−part workforce plan, which includes the creation of a so−called “nursing retention toolkit” that will provide employers with guides to creating workplaces where nurses feel supported and want to stay.
The plan involves making it easier for physicians and nurses to work in different Canadian jurisdictions, Holland said, and speeding up the process of regulatory bodies certifying internationally−trained health professionals to hit a 90−day service standard. It will also undertake a study of the number of health workers being educated in Canada to ensure there are enough to meet demand.
The strategy also includes strengthening and sharing standardized health data across the country in order to better plan for future health workforce needs.
“This is critically important to make sure that we don’t just deal with the health workforce issues we’re facing today, but to make sure that we know exactly who we need in the future,” Holland said.
Improving the integration and sharing of health data is a condition of the health accord the prime minister offered premiers in February.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered $196 billion to the provinces and territories over the next 10 years to improve access to health care. That funding includes increases to the federal health transfer and tailored one−on−one agreements to target the specific needs in different jurisdictions.
In exchange, premiers must promise to improve data sharing and empirically measure their progress toward set goals and targets.
British Columbia was the first to sign the first bilateral funding agreement with Ottawa, and all other provinces and territories have agreed to the health accord in principle except for Quebec, which has balked at being accountable to Ottawa for how money is spent.
Quebec’s Minister of Health Christian Dubé said Thursday this issue is a sticking point for his province.
“The transfer from federal had to be without conditions, this is not negotiable for us. We have been very clear that health is a matter of provincial jurisdiction and we stick to that,” Dubé said Thursday.
A footnote on a federal news release Thursday noted that Quebec has not signed any agreement with the federal government and is not bound to the plan put forward Thursday.
Dr. Kathleen Ross, president of the Canadian Medical Association, met with health ministers this week and said she was very pleased to see the plan’s targets aimed at improving health worker recruitment.
“There were so many excellent points made in these commitments, and the action plan that was mapped out today in P.E.I. is really on point,” she said in an interview Thursday evening.
“We need to support our workers, we need more of our workers. We need to train and retain and recruit in order to get where we’re going.”
Ahead of the announcement of the plan, members of the Canadian Health Coalition, P.E.I. Health Coalition, the P.E.I. Federation of Labour and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions demonstrated Thursday morning in downtown Charlottetown, calling for urgent universal pharmacare and an end to the privatization of health services.
The federal government has promised to table pharmacare legislation this fall.
When asked about what’s needed in legislation for a federal pharmacare program to work in P.E.I., provincial Health Minister Mark McLane said that a one−size−fits−all model may not work and said that conversations are ongoing.
3) Health Unit Begins School Immunization Program For Grade 7 Students
Courtesy of Barrie360.com – News ReleasePublished: Oct 11th, 2023
Beginning this week, the SMDHU, in partnership with local school boards, is providing school-based clinics for three routine recommended immunizations for Grade 7 students: hepatitis B, meningococcal conjugate (Men-C-ACYW) and human papillomavirus (HPV-9).
School immunization nurses will visit elementary schools throughout Simcoe and Muskoka from October to December to provide immunizations for round one of the three free vaccines for Grade 7 students. Information will be sent home with these students through the school in advance of school-based clinics. Students in Grade 8 who missed a dose and did not finish their vaccine series in Grade 7 will be caught up in round two, scheduled for April to June 2024.
“The school-based immunization program is an effective way to reach and vaccinate young people and prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases. These vaccines significantly reduce the risk of hepatitis B, meningococcal meningitis, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. The HPV-9 vaccine is important because it significantly reduces the risk of various types of cancers such as throat and cervical cancer and prevents genital warts.” said Dr. Colin Lee, SMDHU’s associate medical officer of health.
“Vaccination remains one of the best tools we have to protect youth against harmful diseases before they come in contact with them.”
The health unit advises getting immunized according to the publicly funded immunization schedule for Ontario. Having up-to-date immunizations helps to ensure that students have the best protection against serious vaccine-preventable diseases, reduces the risk of outbreaks in schools and allows the health unit to act quickly to prevent and control outbreaks.
The health unit also reminds parents and caregivers that Meningococcal disease is one of the designated diseases under the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA) that requires children and youth attending elementary or secondary school be appropriately immunized against, unless they have a valid exemption. Hepatitis B and HPV vaccines are not required under ISPA but are strongly recommended.
For more information about vaccines that are given in Grade 7 and the diseases they prevent, please visit smdhu.org/Grade7. You can also speak with a public health professional by calling Health Connection, 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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