Thunder Bay's regional hospital is planning to convert some family lounges into much needed space for patients.

The hospital was keeping patients in hallways and alcoves, but that no longer complies with the city's new fire codes.

Now, the plan is to convert seven sun rooms currently used as lounges for the families of patients, into spaces for patient beds.

Andree Robichaud, the CEO of the Regional Health Sciences Centre, said she hopes the extra space will free up the hallways which are currently crowded with beds occupied by patients whose treatment has finished.


CEO of the Regional Health Sciences Centre Andree Robichaud. (CBC)

"Is it the ideal care? No," Robichaud said. "They should be in the community in either a long-term care facility or in an assisted living facility. But we're going to provide the best care that we can."

The rooms will be renovated and equipped with the standard privacy curtains and call bells.

Most of the patients that will get the new rooms are 'alternate level of care' patients, Robichaud said, but ultimately it will be up to the doctors and nurses of each unit to decide where each patient goes.

As of Thursday the hospital said there were 59 'alternate level of care' patients and six waiting in the emergency room to be admitted to the hospital.

Robichaud said she is not sure how long they will use the sun rooms for patients because it depends on when more community space becomes available.

Currently the hospital is looking into other places within and outside the hospital as well, she added.

The conversion will also affect families who used the space as a place to gather.

"That's very inconvenient for the families and I hope that they understand that we're very tight for space and that our priority is for patient care," she said. "So we apologize for any inconvenience that we're creating for the families."