The Comox Valley has its new hospital, and the audible lament of “overcrowding” is coming from all corners. Rather than complaining I would suggest a critical and introspective look into the adage, ‘Careful what you ask for.’
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), hospital-based acute inpatient care is a key component of the continuum of health services in Canada. It provides necessary treatment for a disease or severe episode of illness for a short period of time. The goal is to discharge patients as soon as they are healthy and stable.
Therein lies the rub.
As the previous facility (St. Joseph’s) experienced, the community and its healthcare providers continue to have unrealistic expectations and demands on the acute care hospital. For it to function as intended at 129 beds, a shift in our collective responsibilities and expectations is necessary:
• support the Health Authority to co-ordinate and provide access to services across the continuum based on need, avoiding current practice of fast-tracking through hospital stay;
• fully actualize and ensure ready access to the full array of services from birth to death, known as the continuum of health services;
• wrap services around the person in place to either avoid hospital admission or shorten the length of stay to the acute episode;
• educate and encourage family and friends to provide supportive care to the person in place (at home; in residential care);
• explore and act on all other options before admission to an inpatient bed;
• recognize and support a person’s right to live at risk.
We have our acute care hospital, and yet here we are repeating dysfunctional patterns, clogging one part of the system with people that don’t require it. Re-educating ourselves to view the hospital as the last resource rather than the first takes courage, knowledge, support, and a collective voice for the best utilization of every resource on the continuum. We all have a part to play and it’s not one of complaint.