Bananas over Bed-Blockers

After the PC leadership race last month and throughout the summer there were different ideas and new phrases that were shared with the public. One of the strangest words to come out of this political silly season is the idea of "bed-blockers."

Minister Mandel, when he coined the term, was trying to describe how folks needing long-term care were being warehoused in the emergency rooms, and how hospitals throughout the province were 'blocking' emergency patients and short-term intake from using those very same beds. This causes wait times and delays in surgeries due to the mishandled logistics of placing these patients within the healthcare system.

Personally, I find the term quite strange. First of all, it's calling the people in those beds the problem. They're not the problem. The reason that these acute care beds are filled is because we have not funded long term beds in Alberta. The long term policies have given rise to these systemic crises. Between the privatization of home and long-term care, the province's avoidance of fixing its broken fiscal structure and the lack of a long-term vision for long-term care, the problem is less with the people in the beds and more with the people who craft long-term policy of this government.

Many of these long-term residents of short-term beds are seniors who haven't been given access to long-term facilities because the Alberta Government has chosen not to make those investments since the time of Lougheed, some thirty years ago.

Between acute care, long term care, and home care, the preference of this MLA is to match individual needs with supports by having those housed in hospitals move to long term care centres.

It's also the fiscally smart thing to do. For acute care, costs can run as much as $426 per day for those folks in hospitals. Long term care and home care cost roughly $161 and $106 per day, respectively. When we make the investment and create those spaces for seniors, for long term care, and to make those early investments to ensure seniors live in their homes as long as they're capable, the costs on the system are dramatically reduced and the logistics of our health care get that much better. A strategy of having our seniors supported in their own homes and for public investment in long term care centres relieves a fundamental problem that has, over the last few decades, caused longer wait times and delayed surgeries in our hospitals.

These issues are just some of the ones my caucus and I will be championing in the Legislature this fall. I am proud to be your representative and look forward to hearing from you as issues come up in the sitting of the Legislature. As always, you can drop by my office at #130, 1177 - 11 Avenue SW, call me at (403) 244-7737, or send me an email calgary.buffalo@assembly.ab.ca.