Province bolstering QHC bed arrays with new funding

(From left) Minister of Health Christine Elliott, QHC President and CEO Mary Clare Egberts, MPP Todd Smith and Premier Doug Ford at PECMH Friday. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

Just days after announcing new funding for the future planning and design of  Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital, the Ontario government has pledged funds to help Quinte Health Care deal with surges during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith announced Wednesday QHC hospitals will receive $2.813 million from the Province to fund up to 29 additional transitional care beds and enhance Intensive Care Unit capacity.

“Quinte residents can rest assured that our government is doing everything it can to ensure our health professionals at Quinte Health Care have the resources they need to provide high-quality care during this pandemic,” said Smith. “This funding bolsters their capacity to respond to COVID-19, while continuing to offer the procedures we all depend on in a timely fashion.”

Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

In the coming weeks, the transitional care beds will be allocated based on the greatest need across QHC’s four hospitals. The funding will also allow the regional ICU at Belleville General Hospital to expand from 17 to 18 beds and upgrade three existing ICU beds to Level 3, which includes the ability to ventilate.

“We are grateful to the provincial government for this essential investment to help address increased capacity at hospitals across Ontario, including Quinte Health Care,” said Mary Clare Egberts, QHC President and Chief Executive Officer.  “It’s an acknowledgement that the Ontario government is focused on supporting the health care needs of the communities we serve.”

Carol Smith Romeril, QHC Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, added the pandemic has created pressures on hospitals, including more patients requiring an extended stay in hospital.

“Having the financial resources to support the delivery of safe, quality care to the high number of patients in our hospitals is essential as we face the uncertainties of the pandemic, combined with the upcoming flu season,” Smith Romeril said.

The funds are part of the government’s $116.5-million investment to create 766 more beds at 32 hospitals and alternative health facilities across the province aimed at reducing surgical backlogs and improving access to care.  These beds are in addition to an initial $234.5-million investment for 139 critical care beds and up to 1,349 hospital beds included in Ontario’s fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19.  The total investment of $351 million will result in more than 2,250 new beds at 57 hospitals and alternate health facilities across Ontario.

“Our government is making the necessary investments to quickly and effectively increase hospital capacity and reduce wait times for patients and families in Bay of Quinte,” said Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This additional investment will ensure our health care system is able to respond to future waves of COVID-19 and help patients waiting for surgeries and other procedures get the care they need faster.”

Minister of Health Christine Elliott (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

The government is providing $2.8 billion through its COVID-19 fall preparedness plan. It focuses on addressing surges in COVID-19 cases and reducing health service backlogs by:

  • Extending hours for additional priority surgeries and diagnostic imaging;
  • Helping up to 850 alternate level of care patients access proper care in a home or community setting to help free up hospital capacity;
  • Expanding digital health and virtual services, which provide alternatives to in-person care that limit the transmission of COVID-19, while maintaining access to care;
  • Improving access to mental health and addictions services and supports; and
  • Increasing home and community care service by adding 484,000 nursing and therapy visits and 1.4 million personal support worker hours.

The Province continues to work with its health sector partners and Ontario Health to develop an integrated health system capacity plan in response to COVID-19. The government will continue to monitor and assess the health system’s needs and address any challenges hospitals may face – particularly in light of a recent increase in active cases. 

Smith said it remains vital for the government to continue to protect vulnerable populations and for each Ontarian to follow public health advice.