TORONTO, July 25, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Representatives of the Ontario Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE will kick off a provincial campaign in Guelph, Hamilton and St. Catharines on July 25. The campaign will advocate for elderly patients who are pushed out of hospital while they are acutely ill or who are denied acute care services they need. Patients are being denied access to services like speech language pathology (for assistance with swallowing and speech) following a stroke because they are discharged earlier than they should be, without treatment and the appropriate follow-up.
"Patients who have had strokes face long waits for access to professional care, to assist them with swallowing and speaking following the closure of many hospital speech language pathology programmes," says Mary Cook, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists. "These delays are cruel and unnecessary in a province with our resources," she says.
Ontario has the fewest number of acute hospital beds of any developed economy in the world. Botswana, Panama and Albania have more hospital beds to population than Ontario, which ranks alongside Peru, Cape Verde and Cameroon. Ontario's hospital occupancy rate of 97.9% results in many patients, primarily elderly, being discharged prematurely some to unregulated retirement homes, sometimes with deadly consequences.
"Many family members have experienced enormous pressure to move their mothers or fathers out of hospital, while that parent is still acutely ill," says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE. "We believe that elderly patients are being discriminated against in our hospital system to deal with bed shortages. We don't believe that it is right and we want to bring all of the families and patients with this shared experience together to do something about the problem," he says.
A hotline has been established for patients or their family members to call to report their experiences. The hotline number is 888-599-0770.