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‘It’s not sustainable’: Hospitals in Northeastern Ontario at or over capacity

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Anecdotal evidence has suggested the four major hospitals in northeastern Ontario have been stretched. Long wait times and patients in ‘non conventional spaces’ all demonstrate this.

CBC News compiled capacity statistics provided by Health Sciences North, Timmins and District Hospital, North Bay Regional Health Centre and the Sault Area Hospital.

The data suggests the system is beyond capacity.

Sudbury: A problem since the ‘one site hospital’ opened

Health Sciences North is the one site hospital that came out of cuts in the 1990s. The original project went over budget and resulted in a downsizing of the final hospital, according to HSN CEO Dominic Giroux.

The one site Health Sciences North was supposed to have 86 more beds, but due to cost overruns, the project was scaled down resulting in regular capacity issues for over a decade. (supplied)

« The working assumption was that there would be zero alternate level of care patients at HSN, » he said. « Well today we have 86 ALC patients in the exact same number. So if that reduction of 86 beds had not been done in 2003 we would not be having capacity issues today. »

Giroux says the mistakes of the past are why he is pushing for forward looking planning including a new capital plan, a strategic plan and working with the Ford government to end hall way health care.

« We want to create more bed spaces, » Giroux says. « We want to create more space for mental health and addictions, we want to create more space to allow for more programming for kids and youth to be delivered here in the region. »

Despite the chronic capacity challenges, and recent budget cuts which led to staff reductions, Giroux says Health Sciences North is still a high performing hospital.

Since November 2017, additional government funding has allowed HSN to open 18 more beds, which has helped relieve capacity loads, says Giroux.

Timmins: Socio-economic pressures adding to the problem

« Understandably when we’re not having turnover in our acute care inpatient units we can’t pull up patients from the E.R. into those beds and we have to house them in our E.R., » said Wait Time Coordinator Tiina Guillemette​.

Officials acknowledge socioeconomic realities further exacerbate the problems in the health care system.

« Some people simply cannot afford to go to a retirement home setting, » said Guillemette. « Long term care is the only option available to them. »

When long term care is not available, patients stay in hospital.

Recent funding for additional beds by the North East Local Health Integration Network which is confirmed through to the end of March, has taken the pressure off a bit, say hospital staff. 

« When we had our 16 admitted patients waiting for beds we were able to expedite some discharges. Had we not had the 12 beds it would have been a disaster, » said Dr. Harry Voogjarv, Chief of Staff. « Our emergency department would be stuck seeing one or two people at a time as opposed to being able to assess their usual 20 people at a time. »

TADH managed to spread the funding for 10 acute care beds to create a total of 12 ALC beds by using an alternative care model similar to that found in a long term care home. 

« We have been asked to provide numbers around additional bed capacity and and we certainly shared in addition to the twelve beds that we currently have in place throughout the hospital we have the capacity for another 20, » said Joan Ludwig, VP Clinical, Chief Nursing Executive, Timmins and District Hospital.

Staff say it’s this kind of solution-oriented thinking that can bridge the gap in Ontario’s health care system.

North Bay: ‘Patient flow crisis’ since summer 2017

Staff at North Bay Regional Health Centre say the closure of the 66-bed Lady Isabelle Nursing Home has caused a ‘patient flow crisis’ since the summer of 2017. 

Spokesperson Kimberley McElroy says capacity issues have persisted since then and acknowledged the precariousness of the situation ahead of possible impacts by this year’s flu season. 

« The ideal occupancy for acute to maintain optimal patient flow is 80-85%, » McElroy said. Despite that, most hospitals in the region examine capacity based on 100% use.

Sault Ste Marie: Recent surge funding has helped

« We have been struggling with capacity for some time for sure we would be probably quite similar in our pattern with other community hospitals in Ontario, » says Ila Watson, Sault Area Hospital Interim President and CEO.

On Friday, Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano announced funding to support an additional 10 new surge beds for the Sault Area Hospital. 

Watson says bridge funding like this is critical to relieving pressures on the hospital system in the short term. 

« So those types of investments and commitment are enabling us to be more plentiful and ensuring that we’re able to open beds that are appropriate for the medical patients that we are getting rather than having people stay as admitted patients in an emergency department, » she says. 

The Sault Area Hospital has recently converted several areas in the hospital to have overflow beds. While not traditional clinical spaces, Watson says the hospital needs to be creative to address the challenge.

« If we change nothing our costs increase at rates greater than our funding has been increased and that has been a continual pattern. We’ve done a lot of things to create efficiencies and some of the lower hanging fruit is now gone. One of the most significant recent pieces of work that our organization has done is focus on senior friendly care. »

That senior focus, Watson says, is just as important as adding long term care capacity.

« We have also made some significant strides in the way in which we care for the elderly, » she said. « People who might otherwise in years past been destined to either stay in hospital or to move to a long term care facility are now managed in different ways that focus on bringing them back to the state that they were before they came into hospital. »

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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