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Bulkley Lodge wait times have increased

More patients are waiting in the hospital than usual.
The wait time to get into the Bulkley Lodge is longer than normal. (Marisca Bakker photo )

Read the full story in the June 21 edition of The Interior News.

The waitlist for the Bulkley Lodge is longer than normal with more patients waiting in the hospital.

The long-term residential care facility in Smithers always operates at 100 per cent capacity but there are currently 16 people waiting to get in. Normally, the wait list fluctuates between 9 and 13.

There are 70 beds in total, 53 are long-term, three are short-term, and 14 are for the regional psycho-geriatric population.

“So when a bed does become available a decision making process starts and identifies who is best suitable for that bed that is on the waitlist,” said Cormac Hikisch, health service administrator at Northern Health Authority.

“The patients that are in the hospital are there because there is no way to safely care for them in the community. It could be because there was an accident or an injury or medical condition and they can’t return to their home environment,” he added. “The caregiver might also have had a change in health or some other situation and can longer care for the patient.”

He said it is certainly not the best place to provide care.

“We strive to provide care in the right place based on the condition of the client,” he said. “Supporting long-term patients in a hospital setting is not ideal for that patient and it is certainly challenging for other reasons, but most importantly it is not ideal for that patient.”

The other side of the coin is that it also means there is less availability of hospital beds for other patients and Northern Health has to manage that as well. There is a team that monitors wait times very closely, which can vary greatly.

“It is not necessarily the person on the waitlist the longest that gets the next bed that comes available,” said Hikisch. “When a bed is available, there is a team of clinicians that review the bed that is available and who is on the list and make the difficult decision on which client is most at risk and if the unit is a suitable match.”

Hikisch also added Northern Health works closely with caregivers for those on the waitlist who are still in a home environment, including giving respite services and other additional support.

There are currently no plans to expand Bulkley Lodge but there is some work going on to review the situation across Northern Health.

Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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