CALGARY, AB (April 1, 2015): New health data reveals alternate level of care bed days in Alberta’s hospitals is surging due to the government’s ideologically-driven privatized seniors’ care policies.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” says Swann. “Clearly, there is no medical or financial incentive to continue down this path. So, the motivation must be either ideological or political.”
Alberta Health Services (AHS) documents obtained through an Alberta Liberal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) request show that alternative level of care (ALC) bed days have risen dramatically in just under three years.
From April 2012, to December 2014, hospitals have seen a 110 per cent overall increase in bed days (18,955 to 39,742). The total number of ALC patients has increased by 40 per cent (293 to 409), and the average length of stay has gone up by 50 per cent (65 days to 97 days).
Given AHS cost-per-bed figures, the government has spent $603.6 million on ALC bed days over this period. By comparison, investing in the same number of long term care spaces would have only cost the province $132 million, and saved taxpayers a whopping $471.5 million.
“For years, the acute system has been plagued by bottlenecks, which have led to repeated access to care crises in this province,” says Swann. “The PCs’ only solution has been to double-down on the same policies that caused the problem in the first place.”
According to their website, the Alberta government has invested more than $600 million in Supportive Living Initiatives (ASLI) grants, which sees large sums of public cash transferred primarily to private companies to cover up to 50 per cent of the capital costs for new seniors’ housing developments.
The government insists these grants “improve access to health care for Albertans,” but AHS performance benchmarks and ALC bed usage data have conclusively disproven this claim. In fact, according to AHS annual reports, the number of Continuing Care beds has increased by only 5% from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2014 (from 21,683 to 22,867).
“First, the PCs spent millions on private housing companies who are unable to meet the basic standards of care seniors require,” says Swann. “Most people end up right back in the hospital system at the first sign of illness, and the cycle of suffering and waste continues.”
Alberta Liberals support hiring more front line staff in order to open up all closed beds in the acute care system, increasing funding for publicly funded and delivered home care and long term care, and improving access to basic primary care, injury and disease prevention, and wellness teams for all Albertans.