Does Your Hospital Discriminate?
Are you willing to entrust your life to a hospital? Have you or a parent experienced early release from a hospital with very few or no follow-up instructions? When medical staff seems adamant that a patient is ready for discharge, do you wonder who really benefits from such a decision? Is the patient well enough to travel? Will he or she be okay without access to 24/7 professional medical care? Or does the hospital need to “flip the bed”?
This is the story of hundreds of patients and families throughout Ontario and other parts of Canada. Pushed Out of Hospital, Abandoned at Home: After Twenty Years of Budget Cuts, Ontario’s Health System is Failing Patients is a report that was commissioned by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and relays hundreds of grim experiences. According to the CBC, “Their stories run the gamut from missed diagnoses to long wait times, painting a picture of a healthcare system that’s struggling to cope with inadequate resources. The impact of years of cuts has hurt one group particularly — seniors and the elderly.”
In rebuttal, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care doesn’t agree with the report. A ministry spokesperson states that, “Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care is committed to providing patients with the right care at the right time and in the right place.”
Even with the increase in hospital funding from $11.3 billion in 2004 to $17.3 billion in 2014, Ontario has the shortest length of stay of any province in Canada at 6.4 days — more than a full day shorter than the national average of 7.7 days. According to Statistics Canada, Ontario has about four fewer health care workers per 1,000 people than the rest of Canada. Between 1991 and 2011, the number of hospital staff in Ontario per 1,000 people declined by 20 per cent.
Critics state that it’s not the amount of funding that leads to discrimination amongst seniors. The dispersal of funds to certain areas (drugs and salaries are cited) is at the heart of Ontario’s difficulties.
But what will it take to mend a failing medical system? A carefully balanced budget and re-allocated funds is a good start but serving vulnerable populations effectively will take care and consideration as well.
Have you been treated unfairly when requesting medical care? Why do you think hospitals are quick to rush out people who are in obvious need of assistance? What can we do to encourage hospitals to provide better service?