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Hallway medicine in hospitals is unacceptable

Hospital bed. Photo: Steve Garfield​/Flickr

The CBC published an exclusive story on October 31 concerning the Brampton Civic Hospital (BCH). An internal memo, written by a top hospital executive and obtained by CBC Toronto, warns of the potential impact that chronic overcrowding will have on patient care.

"Between April 2016 to April 2017 there were 4,352 hallway patients at BCH with significant lengths of stay ranging from 40 to nearly 70 hours," noted the study.

Interim CEO of William Osler Health System, Joanne Flewelling, noted, "Hallway patients experience excessive noise and reduced privacy, which negatively affects their overall patient experience and quality of care, and may extend their overall length of stay." 

Kathleen Wynne's government was blasted all day in provincial parliament for not staying watchful for conditions within the hospital to deteriorate to hallway medicine.

Why does it matter? Because patient dignity matters.

I have been one of the hallway patients in hospitals around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). My care was not necessarily complex, other than my young age, but the system just didn't have room for me. Yes, the "system."

Of course, it is easy to blame the system. But when you're moved out of your room and into the hallway, you know it's to make room for a more complex patient who needs the special instrumentation that access to a room provides -- you still can't help but feel ignored and abandoned.

Let's face it, all I needed was a bed and a pole so they could hang an I.V. bag from to give me the medicine I needed. But the hallway -- and again this is from personal experience -- is the last place in the hospital where you can heal, except maybe the morgue. It's too noisy, stretchers get backed up, bumped into. Even when you close your eyes, they open instinctively every time someone jostles the sides of your bed.

The only way to fix this problem is to commit major funding exclusive to the area; as increasing patient capacity is to have more beds to allocate to more patients to.

Liberal health minister, Eric Hoskins, replied to opposition criticism by stating that the government has been responding to the hallway bed crisis problem by adding bed capacity. So far that would only add six new inpatient beds at BCH.

The memo was initially obtained by the Ontario NDP, and provided to CBC Toronto on Monday October 30. Last week, twenty-two beds were opened at Etobicoke General Hospital.

Photo: Steve Garfield​/flickr

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