Muskoka’s hospitals are facing a growing demand for healthcare service.

In January and February, the hospital sites in Bracebridge and Huntsville were overloaded as patient occupancy pushed as high as 140 per cent. Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare CEO Natalie Bubela says there were a few different factors that led to this spike.

Bubela says they’ve had some help from the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network. The LHIN gave MAHC priority over other hospitals in its coverage region to move alternative care patients into long-term care facilities, like nursing homes, for the next three months as beds in those buildings open. Alternative care patients generally don’t have to stay in a hospital but do need medical service that can only be provided in long-term care facilities where space has become limited as well.

Bubela says this priority status has already taken a bit of pressure off of MAHC as patients move into these other facilities.

But this isn’t a long-term solution. She says, to keep up with the growing need for healthcare services, MAHC will need at least five new beds between the hospital sites each year, which will require more funding.

She says this isn’t a problem localized to Muskoka but spans province-wide.

Bubela says MAHC still has a challenge ahead, but the staff are a big part of the reason they’re able to continue providing quality healthcare service in Muskoka.

The priority status for alternative care patients to move from MAHC hospitals into long-term care facilities ends in May.