By: Surjit Singh Flora
New beds coming soon – to a hospital near you.
The province announced plans Tuesday to up bed capacity at Brampton Civic Hospital, as local physicians continue to grapple with wait times and capacity issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott, alongside William Osler Health System CEO Dr. Naveed Mohammed, made the announcement, which will see $116.5 million invested across the province to add 766 beds at 32 hospitals.
Osler will add up to 87 beds through the new funding, with 41 added to Brampton Civic and 46 at Etobicoke General.
“We will spare no expense to protect the health and safety of the people in Brampton and across Ontario,” said Ford, who indicated that the announcement follows on a pledge to end hallway health care and reduce wait times.
“We are taking another step today to keep that promise by adding hundreds more hospital beds across the province. This will not only ensure we are ready for any surges in COVID-19 cases, but provide patients with the care they need and deserve close to home.”
The new funds bring the total amount in funding $351 million for more than 2,250 new beds at 57 hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province.
In recent weeks, Peel Region, along with Toronto, York Region and other hotspots, have seen increased case counts and positivity rates for COVID-19 cases, stoking fears of a second wave of the virus.
The new beds are not only intended to alleviate pressures on the health system but ensure that elective and needed surgeries can continue uninterrupted.
“As Osler continues to respond to COVID-19 and anticipates higher demands for inpatient care over the coming months, this critical investment in hospital capacity will further strengthen our ability to deliver high-quality, compassionate health care services to our patients,” said Mohammed, who spoke of the efforts of frontline workers to respond during the onset of the pandemic.
For some, though, the investment isn’t enough.
Local MPPs, speaking after Ford’s announcement, said that his statement about expanding Peel Memorial rang hollow, given how they refused to commit to funding a hospital a year earlier.
Speaking Tuesday afternoon, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown welcomed the announcement, saying the funding was needed in the wake of the city declaring a healthcare emergency and advocating for additional support from the province.
“The people of Brampton wait hours in long lines at Peel Memorial, and Brampton Civic is the epicenter of dangerous hallway medicine,” said Brampton-East NDP MPP Gurratan Singh. “People in our community deserve so much better than long painful and anxious waits.”
“Brampton’s health care system has been overcrowded and underfunded for too long and the hallway medicine crisis has been compounded by the pandemic. We are in dire need of support from the Province, and we welcome this positive step in the right direction for our community as part of the Province’s fall preparedness plan, especially as Peel is now in the second wave of COVID-19,” said Brown.