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Patient hospital stays decrease

Dr Michael Weitekamp.(Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Each patient’s hospital stay has decreased by an average of one day in the 12 months since the Acute Care Wing opened, Chief of Staff Michael Weitekamp revealed yesterday.

The shortened stays mean patients are less likely to suffer effects such as depression, infections or the weakening of the immune system, Dr Weitekamp told the media.

Speaking at a press conference to mark the first anniversary of the facility, he also said that the wing’s 90 private rooms allow for more individualised care and attention, while the Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) has now instituted a more focused discharge plan.

Dr Weitekamp said: “We had made it clear before moving into this building that, in order to best serve the public, patients would no longer be allowed to remain hospitalised beyond the time clinically necessary for their unique condition.

“Our statistician Cyrlene Wilson has run the reports which show a decrease in average length of stay for patients since the move last September.

“This is good news as we are moving in the right direction.”

From the time of admission, BHB uses daily multidisciplinary rounds for patients, assessing daily progress and potential barriers to discharge either to home, home with additional services or to a different venue for skilled nursing, rehabilitative or palliative care.

“Prolonged hospital stays are not in the best interest of patients,” Dr Weitekamp said.

“They can become deconditioned from prolonged bed rest, depressed and profoundly sleep deprived from medication side-effects, frequent interruptions and unfamiliar surroundings.

“The longer patients remain hospitalised the greater their risk of acquiring infections, bed sores and of falling.

“Recent evidence also suggests that prolonged hospitalisation can result in weakening of immune systems, the body’s natural defences, and may actually increase the chances of another illness following discharge and result in repeat hospitalisation.”

He said that shorter stays also reduce overall healthcare costs, adding: “Our move to this new facility was needed and staff agree it has facilitated improvements in service delivery.”

Statistics released by the BHB yesterday also show that chemotherapy treatments have increased from 6,057 in the General Wing, from September 2013 to 2014, to 7,408 in the Acute Care Wing, September 2014 to 2015.