Matthews comments considered “condescending” in Sudbury

Sudbury residents may be a little mystified by Health Minister Deb Matthews recent comments on their emergency room problem.

Health Sciences North recently closed 30 transitional beds in March. These beds were occupied by individuals described as alternate level of care (ALC) – patients who have completed their acute care treatment, but are not well enough to go home.

Now the hospital has among the highest waits in the province for access to its ER.

According to the Sudbury Star, a 17-hour wait in February expanded to a 19.7 hour wait in March. The hospital is fingering the rising number of ALC patients as the culprit.

Some would look at this and see some dots connecting.

Remarkably, in an interview with the Sudbury Star, Matthews said “I’ve been enormously impressed with the way the community has come together to find solutions.”

It’s true that there is a meeting planned for Monday that brings together all the big health providers in the region to discuss the issue, but it may be a tad early to be “enormously impressed.”

Some found her response to be more than a little condescending, especially when the responsibility for managing the health system falls at her feet.

Tuesday CBC News reported that Dr. Peter Zalan, president of the medical staff at the hospital, noted that Ontario was far behind countries like Denmark in preparing for the needs of an aging population. “We kind of started three years ago.”

Yet we continue to eliminate beds as if we have already made the transition to a future that’s rich in community health services.

Health Sciences North, like every other hospital in the province, will be facing a zero-based core budget this year.

With a funding increase of just 4 per cent, the Community Care Access Centre is supposed to pick up the slack and solve all our problems.

Just like they have in Sudbury.

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