Patients transferred and surgeries postponed due to bed shortage

Cory Hurley
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Western Health has had to postpone medical procedures and transfer patients to another facility to accommodate a shortage of beds at Western Memorial Regional Hospital.
Cynthia Davis, vice-president of patient services, said the hospital is experiencing more admissions through the emergency department and scheduled surgical procedures than the number of discharges — what she referred to as an overcapacity in acute care.

“All of the acute-care beds are full, our intensive care unit is full, and we have people down in the emergency department waiting to be admitted.”

Davis said a review of all patients within the hospital is done to determine whether support care can be provided in another location or for discharge. This includes transferring patients to another facility within the region.

“We look at this in terms of trying to match the care needs of the people who are currently at Western Memorial and balance that with the people who need to be admitted into hospital because they are acutely ill,” she said.

Last week, staff began meeting with patients and their families to advise them of the situation. As of Tuesday afternoon, five patients had been transferred to the Bay St. George Long-Term Care in Stephenville Crossing. Another patient transfer was pending.

Davis said the moves freed up some beds and allowed them to continue with some of the surgical procedures that were scheduled. She said surgeons and doctors were also alerted about the situation, and asked to switch surgical procedures to day procedures when possible.

Despite that, a number of surgeries did not go ahead as scheduled. Davis said they were being rescheduled this week or next week.

She acknowledges it is a difficult situation, and a stressful one for patients and their families.

“We try and support the patient and their families by giving them the information up front,” she said. “Then, when we reach a point that we have to do it, we try to put all the mechanisms in place to make that transition to that temporary location as smoothly as possible.”


The Western Star

Geographic location: Stephenville Crossing, Western Star

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