GTA

2 major GTA hospitals ran at more than 100% capacity in first half of 2019

Brampton Civic Hospital and Etobicoke General Hospital operated at more than 100 per cent capacity throughout the first half the year, newly released data reveals.

In April, for example, both hospitals had an occupancy rate of 106 per cent for medical and surgical beds, while their emergency departments ran at 104 per cent and 106 per cent, respectively.

The data, obtained from the William Osler Health System through an access to information request by the Ontario NDP, was circulated at the legislature on Tuesday.

A widely held international standard maintains that hospitals should operate at about 85 per cent capacity to leave room for any unforeseen spikes in patient demand.

Brampton Civic Hospital has for the last several years dealt with severe overcrowding as the city’s growing population exerts increasing strain on the facility’s resources. A CBC Toronto investigation revealed that in 2016, for instance, 4,352 patients spent time in hallways at the hospital.

In June, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown launched a petition aimed at pressuring the province to provide additional funding to help the city quell its health care “mayhem.”

Similar circumstances have also plagued Etobicoke General, where doctors have said that the number of patients seeking care far outpaces the capacity the hospital was designed to accommodate.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath used time during question period to grill Health Minister Christine Elliott about the figures.

Horwath highlighted that the data also revealed that for each patient that the Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness is funded to treat, five more sought care at the facility.

Elliott stressed the current government’s record on health care funding while blaming “inaction” by the previous Liberal government for overcrowding at the hospitals.

“We do know that many hospitals across the province of Ontario are operating at more than 100 per cent capacity. But this is nothing new. This has been happening for a number of years,” she said in response to Horwath’s questioning.

“We were elected to change that,” she added.

Promises to end so-called “hallway health care” in the province were central to the Progressive Conservatives’ pitch to voters during the provincial election campaign in 2018.

Elliot pointed to a one-time, $384-million boost to the province’s hospital funding allocated in the 2019 budget and a commitment to spend $27 billion on hospital infrastructure in the next decade.

And earlier this month, the government committed $68 million this year to help 90 small and medium-sized hospitals across Ontario address deficits and other funding challenges.

But she warned that the problem of hallway health care won’t be fixed “on a dime.”

“This is going to take several years in order to be able to deal with this completely,” Elliott said.

“But we are aware of these pressures and we want to ensure that people are able to get the care that they need in their own communities.”

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