RMH attempting to move more patients out of hospital to manage expected surge

By Roderick Benns

As COVID-19 numbers are expected to worsen in the coming weeks, Ross Memorial Hospital is moving as many non-acute patients out of the hospital as possible – a situation that is putting pressure on family members.

Veronica Nelson, interim president and CEO of RMH, says given the predicted models of COVID-19 in Ontario, “all hospitals have been asked to create capacity to manage a potential surge in inpatient cases.”

“As our community has been so greatly impacted in such a short time, it is important that we create space to care for patients with probable or confirmed COVID-19, should they require acute care,” Nelson says.

Nelson was responding to the Advocate’s questions about several people on local public group chats who seemed at a loss to know what to do with their elderly mothers and fathers.

One person on Facebook shared within a group chat that they have to move their mother out of RMH but cannot take them in to offer care personally. The person noted that sending their mother to a long-term care home at this point seems like they would not only be endangering her but also “feeding the virus.”

Long-term care homes are seeing many cases with the worst outbreak in Ontario at Bobcaygeon’s Pinecrest Nursing Home. The total number of COVID-19 related deaths there now stands at 22.

Nelson says RMH, like all hospitals over many years, have operated “over capacity” because of high numbers of patients who are awaiting an alternate level of care (ALC) – usually retirement or long-term care homes.

“These patients do not require acute care in hospital,” and are there only because they are waiting on another longer-term option.

The hospital leader says RMH has recently discharged “many ALC patients who do not require acute care, whether to home with community supports, long-term care or a retirement residence.”

Nelson emphasizes that the hospital works with patients and their families, as well as community partners (including home care agencies and Community Care) to ensure that appropriate supports are in place before discharge.

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