Ontario budget includes 254 new patient beds for Ottawa

·2 min read

The province has set aside $45 in its 2020 budget for Ottawa hospitals to add 254 new beds, including support for a pilot project aimed at keeping paramedics from being tied up at emergency departments.

Premier Doug Ford and other officials stood on the roof of a parking garage at the Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital Friday afternoon to provide details of the health funding laid out in the budget, which was tabled at Queen's Park the previous day.

The budget, which comes eight months later than normal due to the pandemic, lays out $351 million for more than 2,250 new beds at 57 facilities across the province, in part to give hospitals more capacity to deal with a possible surge of COVID-19 patients.

Ottawa's 254 beds include:

  • 56 beds to be operated by the Queensway Carleton Hospital.

  • 39 beds and 20 ambulatory offload spaces at The Ottawa Hospital.

  • 10 beds at Montfort Hospital.

  • Nine beds at the CHEO.

Hospital CEOs have described the domino effect created by a current shortage of beds across the system. Patients who should be in long-term care, for instance, might occupy acute care hospital beds even though they don't require that level of care. That leaves patients waiting in the ER, which in turn delays paramedics who are trying to offload patients so they can get back out on the road to answer new calls.

The beds at Greystone Village Retirement in Old Ottawa East are part of an effort by local hospitals to get those patients out of hospitals and into a more appropriate level of care.

The announcement also includes $16 million to build a temporary unit at the Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital, the area's trauma centre. The new unit is expected to be built by the end of the year, the hospital has previously said.

"The extra beds will go a long way in addressing offload delays in hospital emergency rooms, a critical issue for our community," said Mayor Jim Watson, who joined members of the provincial government for the announcement.

In 2019, paramedics spent 53,000 hours waiting at hospital emergency departments to transfer patients. On more than 500 occasions that year, that left no ambulances available to respond to 911 calls.