Investment Will Increase Hospital Capacity, Reduce Surgical Backlogs and Improve Access to Care
KENORA ― The Ontario government is providing $13 million to create up 129 more beds at 6 health sciences facilities across Northern Ontario. This investment will help reduce surgical backlogs and improve access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This investment includes:
- 28 beds at Kirkland Lake District Hospital
- 12 beds at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora
- 15 beds at Sensenbrenner Hospital in Kapuskasing
- 25 beds in Weeneebayko Area Health Authority in Moose Factory
- 28 beds and 1 additional critical care bed at Health Sciences North in Sudbury
- 30 hospital beds at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
“Our government continues to invest in urgent health care priorities in communities across the north,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and MPP for Kenora–Rainy River. “We are delivering on our promise to make a difference in Northern communities by providing improved patient care capacity and hospital beds where they are needed most.”
The new beds announced today are in addition to the $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. This brings the total investment to $351 million for more than 2,250 new beds at 57 hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province – beds that will add more capacity for hospitals, help with occupancy pressures and support the continuation of surgeries and procedures.
The funding was a win for the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, which will use the extra beds to reduce pressure on the overall system.
“The flu increases the need for patient beds at our Hospital. That, combined with the threat of COVID-19, makes the additional 30 beds a very welcome investment by the province because it allows us to prepare for a worst-case scenario. Our collective priority is to provide safe, quality care, close to home,” said Dr. Stewart Kennedy, COVID-19 Incident Manager.
“Our government is making the necessary investments to quickly and effectively increase hospital capacity and reduce wait times for patients and families across Northern Ontario,” said Minister Elliott. “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.”
Last week the government released the 2020 Budget, Ontario Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. Ontario’s COVID-19 health response is now a projected $15.2 billion. The government is making available $4 billion in 2021-22 and a further $2 billion in 2022-23 to ensure the Province can remain responsive to evolving needs in the fight against the pandemic.
The 2020-21 spending includes $2.8 billion to support the Province’s Fall Preparedness Plan for Health, Long-Term Care and Education — the most comprehensive and robust plan in the country to respond to the second wave of COVID-19. The fall plan 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.
With a recent increase in cases of COVID-19, it remains vital for the government to continue to protect vulnerable populations and for each Ontarian to follow public health advice.