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Hospital could re-open to address bed shortage

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TORONTO—The province is considering re-opening a shuttered Toronto hospital site to address overcrowded wards in the region—a plan that could create 150 new beds.

Ontario is looking at the Humber River Hospital's Finch site that was closed last year to move operations to a new facility a few kilometres away, Health minister Eric Hoskins said yesterday.

The re-opened facility would be used to care for so-called alternate level of care patients, many of whom are waiting in hospital for a bed in a long-term care facility.

“[The site] will provide [patients] with highly-specialized, expert care that's specifically focused on their individual needs,” Hoskins said.

“For many, if not most of them, in a transitional way so it will ready many of them for going home . . . and it will also have the added advantage of relieving some of the capacity challenges that we are facing in our hospital system.”

Hoskins did not say how much the plan to re-open the site would cost, but noted the province had set aside $24 million in its 2017 budget to provide additional supports for seniors in hospital.

Hoskins said he has asked hospitals and local health officials across Ontario to come up with plans to alleviate bed shortages in their communities.

The plan being considered for the Humber River Hospital's Finch site had come from the hospital and local officials, he noted.

“We're looking at proposals as they come in,” Hoskins remarked.

“I'm not, at this point, familiar with the proposals that are under consideration, with a few exceptions, so I can't speak to whether they would be temporary or permanent.”

Hoskins said “several thousand” hospital beds across the province are occupied with patients who would be better served in a long-term care home.

Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown said the plan illustrates how the government has mismanaged the health-care system and is the result of years of cutbacks to hospitals.

Patients across the province are being treated in inappropriate settings like hospital corridors, he added.

“I think this is the government in damage control right now,” Brown charged.

“They've under-funded our hospitals and we have hallway medicine.”

New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns said the plan for the Humber River site could be useful, but it's a temporary solution.

“Really, you need to go back and put the investment in the hospitals and health-care system so that we don't have a situation of over-crowding all across Ontario, not just in Toronto,” he stressed.

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