In reaction to a peer review of Sudbury's hospital that slams its handling of Alternate Level of Care patients, the president and CEO of Health Sciences North says overruns of these kinds of patients in hospital is clearly a problem — but not a top priority.

Denis Roy defended his position, saying he would make it a priority, but he cannot do it alone.

"There was a good reason for this — and it was one of accountability," he said.

"For me and the institutions to be accountable, I have to have control. If I don't have control, then I'm not going to put my head on the block for something that I can't control."

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Health Sciences North president and CEO Denis Roy.

Roy said solutions to the ongoing ALC problem lie in patient access to continuing care centres and support programs. He said he will make the ALC crisis a priority if those groups do the same.

The CEO of the North East Local Health Integration Network — an administrative group that oversees healthcare delivery across northeastern Ontario — said the Health Sciences North peer review report didn't surprise her.

"The peer review is very clear on the importance of alignment — and alignment means what the LHIN's priorities are should be the hospital's priorities," Louise Paquette said.

Paquette said the LHIN is working to lessen the burden ALC patients put on the health care system — elderly people who are healthy enough to leave the hospital, but don't have access to the level of care they need.

Support needed

The peer review, which was prepared at the LHIN's request, suggested the hospital isn't making this issue a priority.

But Roy said the continuing care support has to be there.

"I will put it as priority one if my colleague of the CCAC and St. Joseph (Continuing Care Centre) do it too," he said. "Otherwise, it's too hard."

The author of the report, Hamilton Health Sciences president and CEO Murray Martin, said Sudbury is one of the worst hospitals in the province when it comes to the ALC issue.

"It has one of the highest numbers," he said.

"For the role that the hospital plays, it has one of the highest percentage of patients that are ALC."

To make progress, Martin said Sudbury needs to focus more on home care rather than long-term care.

The peer review report made a total of 55 recommendations for change at Health Sciences North.