Letter to the Editor printed in Edmonton Journal, February 21, 2012
Public beds the answer
Re: "Bed supply is key to solving ER wait times," The Journal, Feb. 18. I concur with Dr. Alan Drummond's view that Health Minister Fred Horne has missed the point by not recognizing that bed capacity is the issue that must be addressed if Albertans are to get better access to emergency care. However, the key is to provide the right kind of beds. What we really need is many more publicly funded and operated long-term care (nursing home) beds that are staffed and equipped to meet the needs of cognitively impaired, disabled and profoundly frail seniors. What the Alberta government has given us is supportive and assisted living beds that are so poorly staffed and equipped that any adverse medical event results in another trip to the ER. Last December, Seniors Minister George VanderBurg proudly announced grants of $48.2 million to build 541 continuing care beds. Only 30 of those were long-term care beds, and those were all in Strathmore. Nursing home beds are infinitely cheaper to build and operate than acute care hospital beds but, with 1,500 seniors awaiting long-term care placement, the Alberta government continues to avoid the smart spending solution. It prefers to palm off the problem to the private sector to continue building inadequate facilities that are a major part of the problem, not the solution.By Noel Somerville, Chairperson of Public Interest Alberta's Seniors Task Force This letter to the editor was published in the Edmonton Journal on February 21, 2012. Read the full letter on the Edmonton Journal website.