Dr. Rose Zacharias, the president of the Ontario Medical Association, said she hopes that Ontario's controversial Bill 7 will be implemented with compassion and flexibility towards hospital patients who might be forced into moving into a long-term care home.
Bill 7, also known as the "More Beds, Better Care Act, 2022" is the newly passed Ontario law that is designed to free-up acute care hospital beds meaning that chronic care patients could be moved out of hospital and into a nursing home, on a temporary basis, regardless of whether they want to go or not.
The concern is that many elderly patients in hospitals no longer require acute care and are using Alternate Level of Care (ALC) beds, because beds in nearby nursing homes are not readily available.
The OMA president responded Thursday to a question from Sudbury.Com on whether moving patients out of hospital beds could present significant problems for the ALC patients who might be moved out of their home communities to a long-term care home up to 150 kilometres away.
Dr. Zacharias said in times of crisis, difficult decisions will need to be made.
"We, as Ontario's physicians, understand and appreciate that in times of health care system crisis, difficult decisions are required and will be made," said Zacharias.
At the same time, she quickly added that patients "do better" when loved ones are nearby. She expressed the need for understanding.
"We hope that these regulations would be implemented with flexibility, with compassion, with an understanding that patients do better when they are surrounded by their loved ones and caregivers," Zacharias said.
She added that she hoped accommodations would be made for the cultural backgrounds of the patients, for their native language, their faith perspective and all other aspects of the patient's wellbeing.
"And so as we move forward, and in this stage of our pandemic, we do want our health care system to become robust and thriving," said Zacharias.
She said that is not the experience in Ontario at this time.
"These are difficult decisions. And we will always advocate for the very best well being of our patients, as decisions like this are being made," she concluded.
Under the provisions of Bill 7, individuals who refuse to be moved out of their hospital beds can be billed for up to $400 a day if they are assessed as suitable for being moved.