UBC Theses and Dissertations
The effects of British Columbia hospital closures on delivery of health care services and the population's health Panagiotoglou, Dimitra
Background: In 2002, British Columbia (BC) began redistributing its hospital services. Existing facilities closed, were downsized or became specialized. Reasons for these changes included the centralization of the health authorities and subsequently the redistribution of services, along with safety concerns regarding small units, difficulties recruiting and retaining staff, and policy changes in the province’s Standards of Accessibility. At the same time, innovations in service delivery, such as inter-hospital transfer practices and telehealth initiatives (e.g. telestroke), modified how health care is provided. Effective health service delivery is a complex matter. Over a decade since redistribution began, there has been no evaluation of the changes in service distribution and their impact on patient health. Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study of all adult (18 years and over) acute myocardial infarction (AMI), stroke, and severe trauma events that occurred within the province between April 1 1999 and March 31 2013. Using administrative data, segmented regression and hierarchical hazards modelling techniques, this study examines the effect of service redistribution on patients’ mortality outcomes. Results: The interrupted time series models found service redistribution was not associated with changes in 30-day mortality outcomes, and was likely a response to facility underutilization. Although there was extensive variation in patient access to care (travel burden) across health authorities, the hierarchical Cox proportional hazards models showed that long travel time (>30 mins) was not associated with patient short term mortality after controlling for appropriateness and quality of care along with compensating mechanisms such as inter-hospital transfers, and telehealth services. Conclusion: This work demonstrates that efficiencies in health system delivery can be gained by eliminating underutilized acute care services but also identifies challenges in ensuring equitable access to care.
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