Leaving the Hospital with Nowhere to Go: The Impact of Rapid Hospital Transitions During COVID
During the various waves of COVID-19, many patients, who were historically difficult to discharge (Alternate Level of Care patients) were rapidly moved out of hospital to make room for COVID patients. ALC patients have completed their acute care treatment but they are characterized by chronic conditions that require ongoing care. Our team conducted a quantitative study showing that ALC patients who were rapidly discharged were more likely to experience poor outcomes and less likely to get access to post hospital care (including long-term care, primary and specialist care) and were more likely to be readmitted to hospital or die, compared to ALC patients before the pandemic. While we have these data, we don’t know why this happened, including what types of patients benefited from a rapid discharge and those who did not. Given that hospitals are historically over capacity it is important to understand this distinction as we move into our post COVID recovery period. Our team will conduct a qualitative study and interview patients, their family members, care providers and system decision makers across Ontario who were impacted by rapid hospital discharge so we can understand their experiences, gaps and work together to create better transitions of care for the future.