Union warns that fast-tracked nursing home admissions in New Brunswick may put patients at risk

Fast-tracked nursing home admissions could endanger patients, union says - New Brunswick

“Horizon Health in New Brunswick is facing a serious dilemma – a lack of nursing home staff may lead to the prioritization of hospital beds over long-term care for seniors. Alternative level of care patients may soon need to vacate beds at local hospitals that could be occupied by long-term care residents who currently have no place to go. Is this a viable solution or a potential recipe for disaster?

Dangers of Prioritizing Hospital Beds

While Horizon Health sees the fast-tracking of long-term care placements as a necessary move to free up space and reduce wait times in local hospitals, nursing home workers argue that their facilities lack the staffing to provide adequate care for these prioritized residents. This dilemma poses a serious concern for the health and wellbeing of seniors, as compromised care may lead to dire consequences.

Tammy Nadeau, reporting secretary with New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions, points out that more than 300 beds at nursing homes currently remain empty due to the lack of staff, indicating the unpreparedness of these facilities to accommodate prioritized admissions.

Risks of Compromised Care

The lack of staffing at nursing homes has already led to a decrease in essential services for residents, including fewer bathroom trips and less overall care, which could be detrimental to their health. Nadeau warns that prioritizing hospital admissions may result in more fatalities and deaths at nursing homes, underscoring the potential consequences of this decision.

Assessment and Final Outcome

Data reveals that the Saint John region had the highest percentage of beds occupied by alternative level of care patients in the province in recent years, with more than 200 beds in the Saint John Regional Hospital being occupied by these patients. The Department of Social Development is set to assess Horizon Health’s request to prioritize hospital beds over long-term care placements this week. However, these measures can only be implemented for a maximum of 30 days.


The current dilemma faced by Horizon Health presents a critical ethical and practical challenge. Whether prioritizing hospital beds over long-term care placements will ultimately safeguard the health and wellbeing of seniors remains a debatable topic. While improved wait times and reduced capacity in hospitals are crucial, the potential risks of inadequately staffed nursing homes require careful consideration. The final decision will set a precedent for future healthcare policies and can significantly impact the welfare of seniors in New Brunswick. With so much at stake, it is imperative to strike a balance that ensures the best possible care for residents, whether in hospitals or in nursing homes. As the Department of Social Development deliberates on Horizon Health’s request, the well-being of these vulnerable individuals hangs in the balance, signifying the weight of the decisions to come.”



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