Falls from icy conditions contributing to the problem
TRURO - Icy conditions of late have led to falls that are resulting in injuries that are contributing to overcrowding conditions at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre.
"We are still running at approximately 110 per cent capacity and have two private rooms being used to care for two patients, as part of our overcrowding guidelines," health authority spokeswoman Krista Wood said Thursday afternoon.
On Wednesday, however, three private rooms had been in use to deal with the overcrowding and Wood said officials were working to discharge as many people as possible who are ready to leave the hospital.
"This isn't something that happens once or twice a year. It does happen on a fairly regular basis," Wood said, of the bed shortages. "But I know in recent days we have had some falls due to icy conditions, which can result in some fairly serious injuries, that can require long-term hospitalization."
One of the "big triggers" for putting the overcrowding guidelines into place, she said, is determining how many patients are in the emergency department awaiting admission.
"Our goal is to avoid having people stay for prolonged periods in the emergency department," Wood said. "One of our other goals is to avoid hallway nursing."
And so far that has not occurred at the new hospital, unlike at the former Colchester Regional Hospital where hallway nursing had become a fairly common factor.
The health centre has 104 regular beds available in the in-patient unit, which is up from the 98 that were available when it first opened.
"So we have a certain number of beds that we operate that are funded and staff for, but sometimes we will open up additional beds and staff those beds," Wood said.
Further measures in place to deal with overcrowding include placing patients in the four-bed recovery room in the surgical-day unit that usually is reserved for surgery patients who require longer stays and, where possible, postponing elective procedures.
To also help deal with the situation, Wood said extra home-care services are being put in place for continuing care patients so that someone who might need more than typical home care can get extra help to enable them to return home.
"And then obviously we're always trying to work with continuous care to have people placed in long term care," she said. "I know there were almost 10 yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon who were fully assessed and ready for placement in a nursing home that was available."
Another potential concern that could soon lead to the need for additional hospital services is that the "flu season is imminent," Wood said.
"We are expecting our flu season to be upon us very, very quickly. That's why we are emphasizing getting your flu shot," she said.