Hospitalized seniors asked to move away to help overcrowding

Health care workers in Saskatoon have been given a script to help them convince hospitalized seniors waiting for a long-term care home space to move to a different hospital in a different city.

 The convincing is being done to alleviate overcrowding in Saskatoon’s hospitals. Health care workers who are members of the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan revealed the script, fearing for the well-being of their patients.

“It’s absolutely concerning that the overcrowding situation in our hospitals has become so dire,” said Danielle Chartier, the NDP’s health critic, who raised this concern in the legislature’s question period on Wednesday. “But, asking vulnerable seniors during a difficult time in their lives to move away from their home and their support system for an unknown amount of time – that’s just simply not an acceptable solution to the Sask. Party’s hospital overcrowding problem.”

Chartier said a smarter solution to hospital overcrowding includes opening the half-closed City Hospital for its full intended use. Also, millions of dollars can and should be shifted from top-heavy management and administration into having the right number of hands-on caregivers to end the long waits in every part of the hospital. She added that long-term seniors care beds are lacking throughout the province, and building more care homes where they’re needed is clearly also part of the solution.

Chartier said the script health care workers have been told to use appears manipulative.

“This is an opportunity for you,” it reads. “These hospitals are quiet, fully-equipped to care for you, and have excellent staff members whom you will likely get to know well during your stay. The hospital and staff are fully prepared for your arrival and stay.”

Another bullet reads: “We know this situation might not be perfect for your family; however, this is a way to ensure that everyone received the right care at the right place at the right time, balancing what is best for your care and of others who require hospital care.”

“We feel this is a win-win for all involved,” the script concludes, after the senior has been encouraged to move to the hospital in Wadena, over two-hour drive from Saskatoon, or Rosthern, about 45 minutes from Saskatoon but sold in the script as being just “a 30-minute drive away.”

 “I think of my own mom,” said Chartier. “If she was sick and vulnerable, and told that the bed she was lying in was needed for another patient, she would feel terrible. She would feel guilty. She would feel a lot of pressure to agree to this, even though it would be devastating to my dad and the rest of my family.

 “I don't think any family should be put through this, so I’m urging the government to fix its overcrowding problem itself rather than leaning on vulnerable seniors to make a sacrifice to help them out.