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October 28, 2017 2:19 am

Rapidly Aging Population Straining Hospital Capacity

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 @ 6:42 AM
                graph courtesy Northern Health

By end of last year, demand for beds stayed above capacity     graph courtesy Northern Health

Prince George, BC –  With more and more seniors choosing to remain in northern BC, the region is actually aging faster than the rest of the province and that’s one of the factors putting a strain on capacity at the University Hospital at Northern BC.

Northern Health’s Chief Operating Officer, Michael McMillan, says people used to work here and retire somewhere else, but that’s no longer happening.  “We’re catching up to where Vancouver and White Rock, and Victoria and Kelowna are and that increased aging is pushing demand for acute care.”

In January and February of last year, the 210-bed UHNBC found itself bursting at the seams with a daily average in the range of 260 patients.  At last night’s meeting, McMillan updated City Council on Northern Health’s initiatives to deal with the crunch, including: the quick renovation and opening of a previously unused floor in the Gateway Lodge that provided 15 residential care beds and 11 convalescent/respite care beds; team-based care for those with complex needs, and the rapid mobilization of home support.

McMillan said the efforts have capped demand in the 220-bed range, which is a huge improvement over last year, but there’s no doubt more beds will be will be needed in the next five to 10 years.  “We’re going to need more beds at some point in the future and we’re in the process of defining exactly what that looks like – what type of beds, what capacity we need.”

He admitted there is a growing need for residential care beds and but declined to give numbers to 250News saying, while preliminary research has shown a significant shortfall locally, the information has yet to be presented to Northern Health’s Board and the Health Ministry.

McMillan and Northern Health’s President and CEO, Cathy Ulrich, will meet with ministry officials early next month to ‘start the conversation’ on capacity needs in the north.  He said the process of detailing capacity to government is a significant one and Northern Health has been has been updating the ministry on the issues, the immediate and medium term plans, and the impacts.  “We’re just giving them another update and part of it will be the preliminary bed numbers.”




This shouldn’t have come as a surprise. For the last 15 – 20 years the trend has been to retire in PG as Kelowna and Parksville have become too expensive. We need to plan for more seniors as families are relocating their aging parents to PG so they can look after them. Many smaller communities don’t have the medical resources to meet their needs.

Our lovely provincial government dropping the ball again.. They have lowered the living standards and food quality over and over again in seniors retirement homes and its appauling.. They just dont care.

There has been a shortfall of beds for over a decade at least.. there are always waiting lists for retirement homes in PG.. its pure ignorance that they are finally doing something about. “McMillan said the efforts have capped demand in the 220-bed range, which is a huge improvement over last year” What does that even mean ? NOTHING.. more government jargon that says nothing but their lips are moving.

Seniors numbers are increasing.but is it seniors or the inept running of the hospital that is the biggest problem?

There are bigger priorities in this area such as bike lanes and park renaming

Drive into Prince George and you’ll see a beautiful new jail.drive a little further and you’ll see a beautiful new courthouse.keep driving and in just a short distance you’ll drive by a stunningly beautiful new building…….the new rcmp station.keep driving and in a short distance you will drive by a worn out,old and decrepit building…….our hospital.
Good thing they thought enough of it to give it a fancy new name,though.

Why are we shown a graph which ends November 2014? We have the end of September 2015!

Even with a couple of months lag to get the numbers put in and verified – I would think that would go automatically with the computerized data from admissions and discharges – We should have figures updated to the end of quarter 2 – June 2015.

If they are not being shown to the general public because the Board has not seen them, why would they not have seen them by now?

The 220 figures has been exceeded on at least 6 occasions since the Jan 2012 start of the graph. We have heard about beds in the corridors before. Since Dec 2013, the 220 count has been exceeded each month and has hit 250 almost a year ago. Do we have a facility shortage or do we have a staff shortage … or both?

As far as “Chicken”s comments about new buildings I am unsure what he/she is posting about. The hospital has new wings on the Edmonton St. side, a new addition to the emergency wing, a recent new study area addition for the medical students/medical residents, etc., new Cancer Clinic, new family and outpatient residences, and many interior renovations of the original hospital built in the 1950s and subsequent additions in the 1970’s. In addition, we have Gateway which supplements today’s version of the extended care unit attached to the hospital and built in the 1970s.

One does not have to tear buildings down in order to have an up-to date facility. Look at the RBC building, Scotia Building, TD building to see both exterior changes as well as interior changes.

To many posters are mixing up City of PG responsibilities and Provincial responsibilities.

The Hospital Board has nothing to do with renaming parks, etc.

The Province has nothing to do with new RCMP buildings.

Pval, why don’t you explain to us how this is a story of the provincial government dropping the ball?
It seems to me that any improvements and or investment in our hospital,and seniors housing have come since 2001! The Gateway project was started in 2007! When was the Northern Medical Program created??
Tell us what was invested in health care and or seniors housing in our region in that lost decade between 1991 and 2001! That’s right the NDP were in power and you’re right again….not a single solitary dime….in fact we had to have a massive rally just to get those incompetent a$$es to pay attention!
Now i’m not going to say it’s perfect, as there is always room for improvement, but we are certainly better served now that we were in the 90s!

It’s pretty much common knowledge that the cost of senior’s care and the effects of aging both have extremely negative effects on our aging population. With this knowledge readily at hand, I am surprised, no let me correct myself, I am amazed that our population at large is doing so little to counteract or delay the negative health outcomes!

I DO NOT want to end up in a seniors home! So, I try to take good care of myself NOW! Although I am acutely aware that I may ultimately end up in a seniors home, I am doing my best to delay that as long as possible! We all need to do our part to put less strain on an already over-burdened system! So, what can we do?

Well, for starter’s, any and every little thing possible!

Get some exercise! It keeps the heart healthy and helps stave off the ill effects of heart disease. It also aids in weight reduction and lessens one’s chances of developing diabetes.

Quit smoking! Not only will this free up a lot of cash for better things, the long term health benefits of quitting are well known!

Eat more healthy foods and less unhealthy foods! I’m not saying don’t ever have a burger and fries again, but less often is certainly healthier than more often!

Consume less alcohol! Hey, alcohol in moderation is just fine, but too much of any good thing can become a bad thing!

Get involved in something that keeps one’s brain active and stimulated! A healthy mind goes along with a healthy body!

Doing something is absolutely hands down better than doing nothing! That is unless you want to end up in a senior’s care facility sooner, rather than later!

Maybe they should of spent the 13 million improvement to the hospital in beds space rather then admin space.

And the cost of dwellings in Parksville is comparable to Chilliwack or Abbotsford only drawback its on Vancouver Island.

I support what you are saying Hart Guy. However, it merely pushes the time when one needs help from the health system forward.

I have recently seen that with my own mother who is 90 years old and has lived in her own house taking care of herself by doing all the things you mention. However, as a woman she is much more prone to osteoporosis than men are. As an active person, she is also much more prone to falls. The two do not go together very well.

So, she fell in her garden and broke her hip. An operation; 2 weeks in an acute bed; 4 weeks in a convalescent bed; back for 4 weeks of physio in a hospital clinic with a stay in the rehab/geriatric wing; many more weeks at home with home care assistance to teach her how to live in her own home under new conditions.

She uses an Ipad to converse with the rest of her friends on this continent and Europe; she watches CNN and other stations to participate in world events; she reads more than a book a week; she cooks; she goes shopping; she even drives a car and had just redone her drivers test which she needs to do every 2 years, including thorough eye checkups.

Is her “burden” on the health system less or more than those who die at age 60, 70, 80, 90, 100? Medical stats will tell us. But medical stats also change over time.

Remember, those people who live longer also get more retirement benefits, putting additional strains on that system. They also live longer as singles in houses which could be vacated and sold to younger people.

The cost of living longer are multifaceted and never actually calculated in an integrated fashion. Where is our true cost accounting?

Sure nytehawk.. the increasing amount of seniors retiring etc has been on the provincial books for over a decade.. remember all the talk about loss of tradesman due to baby boomers retiring ? Along with the cost of seniors healthcare increasing due to more spaces needed in homes.. I sure do.. guess you forgot.. As for Gateway.. check how much it is to go in there.. very pricey.. cuts out a lot of seniors due to cost.

Wonder how much money was wasted changing the name of our hospital ? Or how much is wasted paying top dollar for management heavy Northern Health, Vancouver Island health, Fraser health, Interior health, Vancouver Coastal health, First nations health. Just think of the tens of millions of dollars in salary and benifits all the manager of these places suck up that should be spent on our healthcare.. rediculous.

The northern medical program has nothing to do with increasing the number of beds for seniors.

We are also better now than the 1930s..not sure your point is.. I guess you are trying to say the the Liberals are horrible but not as horrible as the NDP was.. ?

Hart Guy no one wants to end up in the seniors home.. You can bet on that..

artisan said “The cost of living longer are multifaceted and never actually calculated…”. I remember when the pro-tobacco lobby spouted figures to suggest smoking saved the health system money since most of the smokers died early enough to not have a long term cost to the system.

Yeah, let’s blame our seniors while completely ignoring the bureaucratic nightmare that is Northern Health. Have they reached the 1:1 ratio for managers to workers yet?

Axman… its not just northern health.. there are 6 Health sections in BC wasting millions on managers..just not ours..


Here is a handy website to get information on B.C. public service salaries.

First though make sure you are sitting firmly in your chair lest you faint, fall and break a hip when you see the unbelievable!

Over 75,000 making over $75,000 in 2013.. even at base of $75000 thats close to 6 billion a year in wages.. more like 8 billion as some make well over 1 million a year..

think I just threw up a little.

Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 @ 3:11 PM by P Val with a score of 0

Over 75,000 making over $75,000 in 2013.. even at base of $75000 thats close to 6 billion a year in wages.. more like 8 billion as some make well over 1 million a year..

think I just threw up a little.


The public sector has been out of control for quite some time now. No one has the political will to stop it though. Keep filling that trough!

Which came first, the rise in housing prices in Vancouver, the GVRD and the Island or the rise in income so that one can afford to buy or pay rent for the roof over their heads?

Remember, most government employees work in “essential” services, so they have a pretty good bargaining position.

I know that most executive positions are over paid but a nurses that spend four years at university deserves a good living wage. If we keep employees on minimum wage that’s exactly what you get someone thats not interested in what they are doing.

You can complain to the heavens but the health care system in BC is under funded and its not free like in some of our provinces. When you pay $65.bucks per adult in the family a month for your MSP its not free and that is payed into general revenue so god only knows where its spent. Just do the math and it tells me that we are getting the shaft.

Plain and simply its the poor management of our government the Liberals.

artisan, I’m not sure if you are defending public sector salaries or not?

Regardless, one thing that must be remembered is that private sector workers often perhaps even usually make less than comparable public sector workers, especially when one factors in the extremely generous benefits and retirement packages!

The next thing that must be remembered is that the private sector workers make up a very large part of the tax base that pays public sector wages and benefits!

So, if house prices rise in Vancouver, the GVRD and the Island, public sector workers are not the only ones facing affordability issues with regards to buying a home or renting the roof over their heads! Private sector workers earning less than public sector workers would have an even more difficult time!

For far too long, our government employees in “essential” services have used their essential services designations to squeeze every last drop out of the taxpayer! Sounds a bit like blackmail, wouldn’t you agree?

Unfortunately, we seldom see a Government, be it Federal, Provincial or Municipal that has the will to take on the public sector unions! Too bad, it’s LONG OVERDUE!

Actually Artisan it has a lot in renaming parks. City hall could have used their time for better effect lobbying the province for health care in this area.

Not to defect this topic notice how fast city hall moved on the rename. unbelievable.

Retired 02, do you really think that healthcare is free in any other province? Really!!??

Tell me one province in which healthcare is free!

Healthcare workers in Canada make very good livings! None of them work for free! Their salaries are paid out of the tax base of each and every province.

In BC, we pay an MSP premium although some employers especially in our public sector pay the premiums for their employees. The MSP premiums collected are just a small portion of the costs of our health care system. The rest comes from the tax base.

So, let’s eliminate MSP premiums and then we can make up the shortfall by using any number of other forms of taxation that exist in our tax base! I actually prefer paying the MSP premium as I see it as a reminder that our healthcare system is NOT free! I would hope that others might see it the same way and would be more cognizant of the fact that health care is not free. It is my hope that if people realize and recognize that it isn’t free, they might appreciate the system and take care not to abuse it!

Unfortunately, I am probably living in a dream world!

Hart Guy wrote: “Tell me one province in which healthcare is free!”

Certain provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario) require health care premiums for services.

Under the Canada Health Act, however, health services cannot be denied due to financial inability to pay premiums.

source = canadian-healthcare.org/page3.html

artisan, it’s never free! Somebody somewhere somehow paid for it!

If a Province doesn’t charge a health care premium, then health care costs come out of the tax base somewhere else!

If someone can’t pay due to financial inability to pay premiums, then the taxpayers pick up the tab!

Free healthcare? Not very likely!

Hart Guy ….

Nothing in life is free …. we all know that. Whether we pay for it through taxes, user fees, inconvenience, labour, freedom of movement, pain, fear, etc.

In the context of a discussion of healthcare, it refers to a system of medical examination, diagnosis, and treatment which is paid for by the taxpayers of the country, limited with respect to drugs as well as types of medical procedures such as dental, restricted physiotherapy, etc.

In fact, the provision of hospital infrastructure and services is paid for by regional district taxes based on the type of facilities and services provided.

Then there are age factors which come into play so that seniors, for instance, do not have to pay for some services which those below the age of 65 have to pay for.

Three provinces have instituted a user pay system to enroll in the provincial medical services plans. The rest do not require such a payment.

In fact, when push comes to shove and one cannot pay for such services, health services which are covered by the Canadian health act cannot be withheld.

So, in the context of this discussion it is free, just as the majority of roads in the country are free for all, as are jails. :-)

BTW, when one compares taxes in one province versus another, BC usually boasts that it has the lowest income tax. That may be true, but the comparison is not made with full disclosure. One part that is not considered is the MSP fees in the province which adds over $700/year/person onto the tax which most provinces do not collect.

So the whole thing is a matter of smoke and mirrors.

Those in business might call it “truth in advertising”. :-)

Hart Guy wrote: “one thing that must be remembered is that private sector workers often perhaps even usually make less than comparable public sector workers”

When one sees that comparison, here is what it looks like:

Scenario one:
A public sector janitor makes $20+/hour
A private sector janitor makes $12/hour

However, that private sector janitor works for XYZ janitorial services which charges the service out at $20+/hour. The other $8+ goes to the business owner to pay for vehicles to get to the clients’ offices, business insurances, risk of underestimating a cleaning bid, time to put in contract bids, office space, etc. and finally pay him/herself, tax accountants, lawyers, etc.

So, the true comparison should be the charge-out rate of private contractors versus the all-inclusive rate for the public sector employee.

Scenario two:
When one operates a public sector enterprise, one of the main decisions one has to make is whether it is cheaper to operate in-house or hire a contractor/consultant. The norm in my experience is that if one deals with general and regular work associated with the type of public sector organization, it is less expensive to stay in-house. Work is generally only contracted out if it is highly specialized and happens infrequently. The engineer, for example, in a public sector operation might make more than the same level of engineer working in a private sector firm, but that engineer will be charged out by at least a factor of 2.5 higher than the hourly salary to cover all other business costs.

Again, we have a case of needing to make all-inclusive comparisons. One rarely finds such analysis. People on chat sites generally shoot from the hip and are fixated on simplistic comparisons which really have little merit and all too frequently result in false impressions. It is one of the drawbacks of internet blogs.

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