Older adult patients aren’t discharging or transferring thanks to “Code Gridlock” that has patients warehoused in nooks, crannies, and broom closets, according to the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).

According to a CMA media release hospitals throughout Canada are wrestling with overcrowding to make space available for older adult incoming patents who have  nowhere else to go.

“We are warehousing them. We do the best we can. But it’s not anywhere near good enough,” says Christopher Simpson, MD, a cardiologist at Kingston General Hospital. Simpson adds that hospitals are increasingly invoking what is known  as “Code Gridlock” when a hospital reaches or exceeds capacity.

“Code Gridlock means that the hospital is so full that patients can’t move,” Simpson reportedly said in a speech to the Canadian Club of Ottawa.

“Patients in emergency can’t go upstairs to a bed because the beds are full. Sometimes ambulances can’t offload patients into ER because it is packed – even in the hallways. Elective surgeries are cancelled. Transfers from the region are put on hold.”

The media release notes that Simpson suggested an answer for Canada’s woes would be  a national seniors strategy among all levels of government focused on developing investment in long-term care infrastructure and home care and community support programs.

“As a society, we need to step up investment in long-term care and invest much more in services for home and community care.”

Code Gridlock is fast becoming the new normal in Canadian hospitals as medical staffs are resorting to putting patients in “windowless nooks, crannies and broom closets —anywhere we can squeeze in a stretcher or a bed,” he added. Simpson said his own hospital is currently on its 25th consecutive day of gridlock.

The chronic overcapacity problem is being caused by a crisis in seniors care, he said. Thousands of older Canadians are taking up acute care beds at $1000 a day even though they are well enough to be discharged because they have no place to go.

There either isn’t a long-term care bed available in their area or there aren’t the support services they need to live at home. About 15% of acute care beds in Canada are taken up this way.

[Source: Canadian Medical Association]