London Health Sciences Centre at Capacity - Patients facing long waits and canceled surgeries Heading

(LONDON, Ontario) – London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) continues to struggle with a lack of available acute care beds resulting in canceled surgeries, long waits in the Emergency Departments and patients receiving care outside of patient care rooms.

“LHSC is running above capacity,” says Cliff Nordal, President and CEO, LHSC. “Our first priority is high quality patient care; however, patients and families should know that while they will receive care, those requiring admittance to hospital may very well be placed and treated on stretchers in areas such as corridors, empty rooms, or on a stretcher placed in an already full patient room.”

Nordal states that the hospital’s dedicated and professional staff have been under significant pressures as the hospital deals with high patient volumes and a lack of available beds. “The decision to cancel a surgery or place a patient on a stretcher in a hallway is very difficult for staff and physicians and extremely upsetting for patients and families,” say Nordal.

The largest factor contributing to bed shortages and canceled surgeries continues to be the high number of beds being occupied by patients who no longer require acute care but cannot be transferred to due to a shortage of beds in long term care facilities. This number of patients has averaged 70-80 patients per day. This accounts for approximately 12% of LHSC’s medical/surgical beds.

LHSC has been actively advocating to the Southwest Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) for immediate interim solutions including funding for temporary beds in existing long term care centres, more home care support and funding for hospitalists.

The lack of inpatient beds at LHSC has resulted in a number of issues:
• Consistently high numbers of patients on stretchers waiting to be admitted, with the Emergency Departments at Victoria Hospital and University Hospital averaging approximately 32 patients in April compared with 14 in the same period in 2007.
• Same day surgical cancellations have remained high, with 13 surgical cancellations the week of May 12, 25 surgical cancellations the week of May 5 and 23 surgical cancellations the week of April 28.
• Ambulances being delayed in bringing patients on stretchers into hospital.
• As the largest hospital in the region and the regional transfer centre for other area hospitals whose patients require acute and critical care services, the reduced bed capacity severely limits LHSC’s ability to treat patients from other hospitals.

“On behalf of the staff and physicians at LHSC, I would like to thank the public, patients and families for their support. We understand the feelings of frustration and ask for patience during these busy times,” says Nordal. “Our staff work hard everyday to make a difference for our patients and their families. We are very proud of our tradition of care and the important role we play in the community and will continue to meet our commitment to safe and quality patient care while we advocate to the LHIN to find solutions to the challenges of bed, staffing and physician shortages.”

About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been in the forefront of medicine in Canada for over 130 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, South Street Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, two family medical centres, and Lawson Health Research Institute - a joint research initiative with St Joseph’s Health Care, London. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 30 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in Southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s 10,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.ca

For more information contact:

Rachelle Wood
Corporate Communications and Public Relations
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 77642
Rachelle.wood@lhsc.on.ca

After-hours assistance:
Call LHSC Switchboard at 519-685-8500 and ask to page the communication consultant on-call

Backgrounder

To assist LHSC in being able to serve patients needing a bed for surgery or illness, we request that patients and families follow our check out times and arrange for a ride and, if needed, assistance for going home.

To assist the hospital with the high levels of patients in the emergency departments, the public is asked to consider the following options:

• Contact your family doctor or a walk-in clinic for any illnesses that are not urgent or life-threatening;
• St. Joseph’s Hospital has an Urgent Care Clinic Centre that is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week; however, please note that this clinic is for urgent health care issues and is also experiencing patient volume increases, resulting in longer waits.
• For health advice and general information 24 hours a day, seven days a week contact Telehealth Ontario 1-866-797-0000; and,
• If you must come into the Emergency Department for treatment be prepared for longer waits and please bring only one additional individual with you if necessary.

If you are short of breath, have chest pains or have experienced a serious injury, you should phone 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Department.

If you are unsure as to where to go, phone 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Department.

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Last Updated May 21, 2008 | © 2007, LHSC, London Ontario Canada