HALIFAX — A union report that says Prince Edward Island patients are adding to a bed shortage at Halifax hospitals has raised concerns from the Island's Tory Opposition, who say it shows Island patients often can't get the care they need at home.
The report released Monday by the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union provided anecdotes of patients being treated in hallways and undergoing CPR in elevators because of emergency department overcrowding.
The document cites anonymous staff who argue patients from P.E.I. are contributing to a bed shortage because they are staying longer than necessary at the Halifax Infirmary, Atlantic Canada's largest hospital.
"Halifax Infirmary staff report longer stays for P.E.I. patients due to ongoing difficulties sending those patients back to their home province," says the report, basing its comments on interviews with frontline staff at the Infirmary.
James Aylward, the Tory health critic in P.E.I., said Wednesday the report is the latest indicator his province needs to open nursing home beds and move more quickly on homecare programs.
"We continually have acute care beds being occupied by people waiting for long-term care beds in nursing homes and manors. It's an ongoing and ever-increasing problem in P.E.I.," he said in an interview.
However, the director of health services at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, which includes the Infirmary, says 92 of the 159 Island patients who used the tertiary care facilities between last April and February were transferred home the day doctors deemed them well enough to leave.
Brian Butt says only four patients were still waiting for a transfer more than two days after doctors approved their departure.
"That figure is relatively low, but we are always looking at how we can make improvements and create efficiencies to ensure we've freed up every bed we can," he said in an interview.
"We'll work with P.E.I. to make sure we get patients back to home as fast as we can."
He estimated that at any given time, there are 15 to 20 Islanders in the city's hospitals, which have roughly 600 acute care beds.
The union has recommended a policy goal of having patients transferred to their home province within 24 hours.
A spokesperson for the Prince Edward Island Health Department wasn't available for comment.
Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press