Hospital patients in Corner Brook could soon end up sharing a room with someone of the opposite sex.

Western Health activated the policy this week at Western Memorial Regional Hospital.

Cindy Davis, vice-president of patient services with the health authority, said the facility is over capacity.

"Often when a bed does become available it may not be in a room with someone of the same gender," said Davis.

"What we end up doing ... is doing lots of moves for patients that are already in hospital and we know when we move people around like that, that are already in hospital, we break the continuity of care. We see this as a way to respond to try to get people up to those beds as quickly as possible, and to cause the least amount of disruption."

Davis said there are exceptions to the policy, which was developed in 2009. For example, men and women won't share rooms in areas such as obstetrics, pediatrics and the mental health unit.

She said Western Health applies the policy on a case-by-case basis.