Michael Hurley, who is the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, says the $2-million earmarked for the North Bay Regional Health Centre, while welcome, is far from enough.

The money was part of a $90-million announcement for Ontario hospitals announced by the Ford government last week.

In the case of the North Bay hospital, the money will be used on 26 beds for Alzheimer’s patients.

Hurley says that’s good news for patients in this group.

However he says various groups have been analysing Ford’s numbers and say the announcement basically amounts to a cut.

The reason for that is the Ontario Health Coalition said before losing the election, the Wynne Liberals had committed $187-million for 1,200 Ontario hospital beds.

The coalition says when this is compared to Ford’s $90-million announcement, it amounts to a cut.

And Hurley doesn’t disagree with the OHC’s assessment.

However he says even if the Ford announcement is taken as an addition to more beds, it still falls short.

Hurley says under the Liberals, the North Bay hospital lost hundreds of beds.

He says North Bay would need about 200 beds just to get back to a level it once enjoyed several years ago.

Hurley says the North Bay hospital operates regularly at more than 100 percent capacity.

“In any other country this would be considered dangerous and unsafe because of the risk of medical errors,” he said.

“Also the risk of hospital acquired infections grows as you dilute staff attention among a growing number of patients.  There is also a serious implication for people trying to get care and can’t get into a hospital or if they get in, they’re given care outside an emergency room, a broom closet or sunroom.”

Hurley says the need for more beds doesn’t only serve a current need.

He says Ontario’s population will grow by 30 percent over the next two decades and the number of people who are over 65 years old will double.

And it gets worse.

Hurley says the population of people over 70 will triple and it will quadruple for people who are over 90 years of age.

Hurley again stresses the Alzheimer’s beds are important but what’s also important is the need for an announcement that creates 24 hour beds that are “fully staffed and available to the public to meet the coming pressures.”