Amputee patients stay in hotel to reduce overcrowding at Adelaide hospital
Posted July 04, 2019 06:54:13
One of Adelaide’s public hospitals is using hotel rooms instead of hospital beds for some of its patients in a bid to reduce overcrowding and improve care options for amputees.
- Rural amputee patients awaiting rehab can be stuck waiting because of bed shortages
- Modbury Hospital is now offering them care in a nearby hotel
- One patient says it has made a huge difference to his recovery
High demand for beds has meant amputees from rural South Australia have had rehabilitation frequently postponed because all the beds at Modbury Hospital are full.
During peak winter demand, up to six amputee patients have been stuck on a waiting list for rehabilitation at Modbury.
If they lived in Adelaide and could travel to their appointments, they would have already completed their rehab.
Modbury’s ambulatory rehabilitation clinical manager, Felicity Jenkinson, said there was an “urgent” need for “creative” ways to offer solutions to country patients, and said the hotel model was one option.
“We had a number of country patients that were identified as needing prosthetic limb training but couldn’t come in due to bed capacity,” she said.
“If these patients were in the community, they would have been in our service already and receiving their rehab.”
Under the arrangements, patients are housed in a nearby hotel’s wheelchair-accessible room which has more cooking facilities than a regular hotel room.
Modbury Hospital provides extra equipment, like shower chairs and toilet seat raisers, during the rehabilitation.
It is the first time SA Health has provided care for rehab patients in a hotel, although not the first time rural patients have been forced to stay in one.
Last year it was revealed that regional patients were staying in a hotel across the road from the Royal Adelaide Hospital because there was nowhere else onsite.
Berri resident and amputee Allen Axon was one of the first patients to stay in a hotel, at the expense of SA Health, instead of being admitted as an in-patient at Modbury Hospital.
He said he preferred the experience.
“I don’t like hospitals, they’re probably one of my pet hates, but when you’re living [in a hotel] you can go back, do your own thing, go shopping, go see friends,” he said.
“It makes it a more normal life.
“I thought strapping a leg on, pretty simple and we just go on with walking, but it’s not that easy.”
Hotel bed ‘much cheaper’ than hospital
The hotel-based rehabilitation care was modelled on the way private hospitals use hotels as a discharge pathway for patients who have recently had babies but no longer require intensive hospital care.
In recent years, Adelaide hospitals have been repeatedly troubled by ramping and overcrowding, with doctors last year declaring the problem had become a “crisis”.
Dr Jenkinson said the current approach at Modbury was proving to have better outcomes for patients and taxpayers, and was freeing up hospital beds.
“We know if they’re getting adequate rest, they’re not disrupted at night, then people are going to do a lot better,” she said.
“It’s really a win-win situation. A night in a hotel is much cheaper than an inpatient bed.”
Mr Axon had his right leg amputated from the knee earlier this year after his foot failed to heal following an ankle operation.
For six weeks, he underwent extensive rehabilitation at Modbury Hospital learning to use and walk with his new prosthetic leg.
Living in a hotel also meant his wife, Sherrie, could stay with him during that time, and she said the experience had significantly reduced her husband’s anxiety.
“If he was in hospital, no way would he have recovered like he has,” she said.
Ms Axon makes regular medical trips to Adelaide with her husband, who also has diabetes and is undergoing dialysis.
She said it could be very difficult for country patients to receive care in the city due to a lack of transport options.
“We have some close friends who are struggling at the moment to meet the commitments they have to have,” she said.
Ms Axon said one of her friends with eyesight difficulties finds it “very difficult” to make regular trips from the country into the city.
“We’re very fortunate that we’re in a position that we can do what we can do,” she said.