Article by Darlene Oakley
In our grandparents’ day, health care began with a family physician, with most every surgery and other more invasive or involved treatments being referred to a hospital. It used to be that a mother who had just given birth would have stayed up to two weeks before being sent home. A similar time was assumed for post-surgical recovery. Many patients are now discharged within a day or two of surgery, and surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis where possible, reducing the need for hospital personnel and spaces.
As primary care medical practitioners and facilities have evolved over the past few decades, there has been a decided shift to non-hospital-centered care. Improved anesthetics and medications and other community-oriented health care centers have meant that patients are discharged from hospital sooner. Some patients obviously require home care provided by a registered nurse or psychiatric services to continue their recovery. Other patients, however, may not even be aware that home health care support services are available.
Obviously, this particular issue cannot be completely covered in a single article, at least not one that many people would read to the end of. So, we will examine this emerging health care trend over a series of articles. This article will look at how this trend came about. How did we go from hospital-centric care to community-health-centric care. This may get a little technical as we look at some of the statistics, but it’s important to know how we got here and where the trend appears to be going.
A Shift in Health Care
Peoples’ specific needs for health care are always changing. Just like every other industry, the health care sector has had to respond to patients’ needs. Not every surgery requires a hospital stay. Not every medical treatment requires a hospital stay. Shifting to outpatient services frees up hospital spaces for those who truly need hospital-based care, and helps to more successfully transition people from hospital to home and back to a semi-normal, pre-treatment or post-treatment life.