Hospital corp. questioned over continuing care fees

The NDP’s health critic is questioning why patients holed up in hospital beds for long-term care are being charged.

The NDP’s health critic is questioning why patients holed up in hospital beds for long-term care are being charged.

The Yukon Hospital Corporation’s chair Craig Tuton and CEO Jason Bilsky were in front of the Yukon legislative assembly Nov. 27.

About one-third of the 55 hospital beds at Whitehorse General Hospital are typically used as continuing care beds, due to a shortage of beds at the territory’s four continuing care facilities.

MLA Jan Stick questioned what kind of care a person receives at the hospital compared to continuing care facilities.

“The longer individuals stay in acute care without those extra supports needed, their health tends to deteriorate and their well-being. An acute care hospital is not a place for people who don’t need acute care,” she said.

Bilsky agreed that people who do not require acute care should not be in the hospital. He said the hospital does the best it can.

“It is a collaborative care situation, where we have physiotherapists, we have social workers, and we have caregivers that are specialized in nursing. We even have for those First Nation clients a specialized First Nation program that helps them navigate the system – food programs such as traditional foods for them and traditional healing if necessary,” he said.

Tuton confirmed long-term care patients staying in hospital beds are charged $35 a day. The charge is written into legislation, MLAs heard.

Bilsky said the $35 a day fee is consistent with other facilities. “It is unfortunate, but it is occupying an acute care bed and the cost of that acute care bed is probably in the neighbourhood of anywhere from two to four times what a long-term facility is,” he said.

“So it’s important that we ensure there is consistency across the system. As I said, we’re working very hard to make sure that we’re providing a standard of care that’s, I guess, the best that we can do in that scenario.”

In continuing care facilities residents would be receiving things like room of their own, where they have their own furnishings, a sense of community, caregivers and recreation workers, Stick said.

“I’m really troubled by this $35 per diem. I don’t think it’s fair. I’m sure they are getting adequate care and the best care that they can, given the circumstances that they’re in an acute care hospital, but I do have a problem with this. I’m surprised by it.”

Health Minister Doug Graham criticized Stick for entering into a debate with the members of the hospital corp. In the end, she said she would come back to the issue at another time.

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