Provincial funding to help Northumberland Hills Hospital tackle flu surge

The province is providing nearly $250,000 in one-time funding to Northumberland Hills Hospital to address expected patient volume increases during the flu season.

Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini made the announcement at the Cobourg hospital on Monday. He says the $242,000 will help cover the costs to open an additional four beds.

“Our government made an important commitment to tackling hallway health care and this quarter-of-a-million dollars for four additional beds is an important step,” he said.

The funding is welcomed by hospital officials who say patient occupancy rates remain well over 100 per cent.

“96 beds is our normal funding but right now, we’re running at 110 to 115 patients some days,” said Linda Davis, hospital CEO and president.

She noted on Monday morning that there were currently 11 patients in the emergency department still waiting for an in-patient bed.

“Depending on the number of discharges, those patients may end up staying in the emergency department,” she said.

Davis said the hospital applied for the one-time funding. Northumberland Hills Hospital has the capacity for 137 beds.

“This funding will provide very welcome support to NHH and help us recover the costs of beds that we have had to open to meet local patient need,” she said.

“Although this funding is temporary — to cover surge related to the flu season — challenges related to patient flow at NHH are not just a winter phenomenon. Here in Northumberland, surge has become a reality 12 months of the year.

“Today’s announcement is very welcome news to support local care in the short term. System-wide solutions are required to fix this challenge in the long-term, and we applaud the government’s commitment to these long-term solutions. We look forward to working together, alongside our community partners.”

Piccini says the funding ties in with the province’s recent announcement of 6,000 new long-term care beds across Ontario with 9,000 more beds on the way over the next five years.

“One patient treated in a hallway is one patient too many,” he said. “This move will reduce the strain on the health-care system in advance of the upcoming flu season and work with frontline health-care professionals and other experts to transform the province’s health care system.”

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