Dr. Christopher Simpson, the cardiologist who leads the Canadian Medical Association, recently said in a statement that hospitals in Canada are swamped with older patients who have nowhere else to go.
He said hospitals say they face “Code Gridlock” — a situation in which they are housing so many stranded patients in need of long-term care (LTC) services, or at least short-term care services, that they can accept no more new patients.
He said hospitals can end with patients in “windowless nooks, crannies and broom closets.”
Of course, some of that stranding may have to do with the quirks of the Canadian health care system, but U.S. hospitals can also end up filling acute care beds with patients who really ought to be in nursing homes.
One factor is that creating a hospital or nursing home bed takes time, and forecasting how many of those beds are needed will all be difficult.
But another factor is that it’s much easier to make flowery, warm-hearted statements about how well we have planned for people’s LTC needs and how lavish the care will be than to actually set aside the money to pay for the care, create the facilities to provide the care, and hire and train the people who will deliver the care.
As Dr. Marion Somers says, “A failure to plan is a plan to fail.” A corollary might be that a belief that putting a bunch of words on paper is all we need to do to plan is a failure to make a serious effort to plan.