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OHA points to need for capacity planning

Ontario’s health care system is facing significant challenges, and given how interdependent the health system is, it is essential to immediately implementprovince-wide capacity planning, including hospital based care, and aggressively increase funding for community services, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) said in a statement released last week.
“While there is always more work to do, Ontario’s hospitals have become highly efficient in recent years,” said OHA President and CEO Anthony Dale. “At the same time, they continue to experience growing demands for service and relentless pressure to bend down the rate of cost growth. Under these circumstances, it is essential that all Parties
commit to aggressively creating much greater capacity in health services outside of hospitals in order to ease pressures on emergency rooms and reduce wait times for discharge
from hospitals.”

For nearly a decade, Ontario’s hospitals and their partners have been working to address the needs of patients identified as requiring alternate levels of care (ALC). And while considerable gains have been made in bringing patients the right kinds of care, there are still on average, 4,000 patients on any given day waiting to receive the care they need in another, more appropriate setting.
Today’s ALC challenge is very different from what was first identified as a growing problem in 2006. This is due to the increasingly complex nature of these patients’ needs. Evidence demonstrates that a growing number of ALC patients have mental health and addiction conditions and require care solutions that are best delivered outside of the
hospital setting.
Because these needs have not been appropriately planned for, they are not always available and so many clients and patients remain in hospital not receiving the right types of care that they need. As a result, Ontario’s health care system increasingly runs the risk of increased congestion within emergency departments and longer wait times for discharge. Health system performance data directly suggests that these challenges only stand to grow over time if not addressed imminently.
Expanding funding and capacity for the right kinds of community support services is what is needed to ensure that Ontarians can get the best possible care where and when
they need it.
“Ontario’s hospitals want to build on the work that is being done today and continue to transform the health care system by looking to the future and planning for services based on the actual needs of people at the local, regional and provincial levels,” said OHA board Chair Marcia Visser.
“Capacity planning is a building block for the future and it needs to be put in place today.”

To read more about the OHA’s health system policy ideas and recommendations, visit