Hospitals are often big buildings with hundreds of patients staying within their walls every day. Our goal as healthcare providers is to provide the best care possible for those patients. One of the first steps in doing that is matching the needs of the patient to the care they receive. We call it giving our patients “the right bed at the right time.”

A hospital bed

How beds are designated and where patients are cared for could change with bed realignment to ensure the Region matches our services with patient needs.

Hospitals are organized into units where patients needing similar care (maternal, surgical or general medicine) are grouped together. Grouping patients needing similar services is considered best practice and every effort is made to do this for every patient. However, it is not always possible. Off-servicing occurs when a patient that would be best suited to one type of care is placed into a unit designed to offer another type of care. It is not the best situation for the patient or care providers.

The Region, as part of the follow on work from the 90 Days of Innovation: Ready Every Day initiative, is continuing efforts to eliminate off-servicing. To accomplish this, we are examining every bed and determining if the quantity of beds we offer for various types of care match the needs of our patients.

For example, by looking at total admissions by type of care needed over a two-year period, it was discovered that the Region actually needs more general medicine beds to meet patient need, and could function comfortably with fewer surgical beds. This does not mean we are doing fewer surgeries; in fact, we know we are actually doing more surgeries than ever in our Region. However, the decreased demand for beds is likely the result of improved surgical techniques, like key-hole surgeries, that shorten recovery times for patients.

Another key component in making sure that patients are receiving the right care in the right bed at the right time is to identify those patients who require an alternate level of care (ALC). ALC patients often remain in hospital even though they no longer require the intensity of care, or level of service, that a hospital provides because there is nowhere else for them to go. The Community Strategies team, led by Corey Miller, is in the process of collecting ALC data on patients to determine who in hospital requires an alternate level of care and which of these patients can be transitioned to a more appropriate location in the community. The team will soon begin transitioning ALC patients from St. Paul’s Hospital to Preston Park II, an assisted living facility participating in the Region’s Transitional Care Bed pilot project.

Over the past several weeks, staff and physicians stakeholders have been examining suggestions on how Saskatoon’s three hospitals could have services realigned to match the needs of patients.  Their examination is also looking at future demands for service, and whether there are enough beds at all locations based on predicted demand.

A final recommendation will soon be presented to Senior Leadership and once approved, it is expected any changes would be rolled out in late 2015 or early 2016.