So, overcrowding in hospitals has an impact on patient care, and leads to stress in nurses.
And sickness makes you ill, what else is new? The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) is an organization apparently quite capable of stating the obvious. After more than two years in the Health arena, I must admit, I’ve never heard of them.
I don’t dispute the cause-and-effect relationship of poor-quality patient care or stress levels of healthcare professionals that arise from overcrowding, but I do take issue with the oft-repeated request for more beds. And when those beds fill up because nobody is leaving the hospital, what do you do then?
In addition to the 24-hour discharging that I indicated in a prior post, another solution comes to mind: creating more long-term housing for the elderly and infirm, to allow them to leave the hospital when it is appropriate, to go to a location that specializes in care of this sort. The hospital should not be the final destination, it should be a stop in a continuum of care. Additionally, more accessibility to family doctors or clinics would ensure that many of these people that are crowding the ER will not show up in the first place.
What’s needed, in the long run, is to have the political will to create a society that emphasizes healthy living, that actively promotes physical activity, better nutrition, and so on. Small steps have been taken, but more needs to be done – not because it’s popular, but because it’s right.
Let’s also work toward the reduction (or elimination, hopefully) of poverty, the introduction of a living wage (as opposed to the literal minimum wage we have now), illiteracy and social isolation that make people unhealthy. These aren’t by any means the sum total of the things that make people ill, but they are the ones we can actually control.
The problem is, it won’t happen within the four-year election cycle, it’ll take at least 10 years for positive effects to start happening, and that’s why governments only ever go part-way to solve the real problems behind the burdens on the system, and only on those things that are directly related to health in the eyes of the lowest common denominator. You don’t want to tax the intelligence of Joe/Jane Average by telling them that better reading skills mean better health. But challenging us may be the only way that things happen that move us in the right direction, and we need to challenge them back, to demand long-term solutions, not a handful of money thrown at the loudest lobbyist or the best photo op.
I remember Bruce Lee saying something to the effect that the best way to avoid a punch was not to be there in the first place. This idea, slightly altered, applies to emergency rooms as well – the best way to have a sustainable health care system is to have people not need it in the first place, because they are in better health to begin with.