London-Fanshawe NDP MPP Teresa Armstrong at Queen's Park, March 5, 2018. Screen capture from the Ontario Legislature YouTube channel.

Armstrong Slams Premier Over Bed Shortage

A local MPP put Ontario’s premier back on the hot seat over a hospital bed shortage that stranded a second Londoner abroad.

London-Fanshawe NDP MPP Teresa Armstrong raised the case of Larry Dann at Queen’s Park on Monday. The London man spent eight days in a Miami intensive care unit with a severe infection after being denied a transfer home to Ontario due to a lack of beds.

“I can only imagine how scary it must be to be in ICU, and not able to come home. Larry said his insurance company was very diligent and tried very hard to bring him home – even organizing an air ambulance to get him back to Ontario. But he was never moved because there just weren’t any beds available,” said Armstrong, who then pressed Premier Kathleen Wynne to explain why this keeps happening.

While admitting she did not know the details of Dann’s case, Wynne suggested the real issue could be people waiting to get beds in their hometown instead of the first available bed in the province.

“If we looked across the whole province, there likely were beds that were available. Perhaps not in a specific jurisdiction but that should not be the issue,” said Wynne.

The premier went on to state that the province is looking into a possible communication breakdown between insurance companies and the health care system.

“If as in the previous situation there were beds in the province that were available, not in the particular home community of the patient but there were beds available in the province, that is the situation that we need to unearth,” said Wynne. “We need to understand if that is the case and, if that was the case, then why was that patient not able to go to one of those beds? I don’t know the answer to that in this situation but those are the questions that we are in the process of asking because there is a disconnect between the insurer and the system and we need to find out what the problem is.”

Londoner Stuart Cline spent more than a week with a brain bleed and heart condition in a Mexico hospital waiting for a bed to free up in Ontario. He died over the weekend, just days after finally being transferred to a St. Catharines hospital.

According to Armstrong, the London Health Sciences Centre is often over capacity and has recently been forced to postpone cardiac surgeries due to the overcrowding crisis.