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Hospital struggles to discharge patients

King Edward VII Memorial Hospital has been pushed to capacity due to difficulties discharging some patients, according to a spokeswoman.

Responding to reports of long waits and a shortage of open beds at the hospital, the Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) said the issues were linked to the struggle to discharge some patients, despite them no longer being acutely ill.

“This is sometimes because their homes are no longer safe for them and alternative accommodation has to be found,” the spokeswoman said. “Sometimes families do not want or cannot take them home, sometimes longer term or rehabilitation placements cannot be found in the community, and sometimes there are other complex social issues that cause delays.

“The impact of being at full capacity in the hospital is that from time to time people with genuinely acute illnesses are cared for in Emergency while they wait to be admitted to an inpatient unit. This can increase waiting times in Emergency, however it must be stressed that patients requiring emergency care and admission will be cared for appropriately and not turned away.

“High acuity patients will still be triaged appropriately. Even if there are no immediate inpatient beds available, patients are still cared for in a clinical setting until a placement is available.”

The spokeswoman said the BHB has around 50 beds in the older, general wing as well as 90 acute care beds in the new wing. Of those beds, 36 are currently occupied by patients who could be discharged if safe alternatives could be found.

“This is a long-standing problem BHB has been challenged with for many, many years,” the spokeswoman added. “We are very sorry for all people who are impacted by these delays. We certainly understand their frustration and we are working around the clock to try and relieve the pressure.”

Health Minister Jeanne Atherden told the House earlier this month that seniors were being abandoned at the hospital. She said the issue is costing taxpayers $27,200 a month and has led to the delay of some surgeries. Shadow Minister Kim Wilson subsequently called for action against “granny dumping”.

King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 27, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 27, 2015 at 12:35 am)

Hospital struggles to discharge patients

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