The North West Local Health Integration Network says it's addressing the issue of overcrowding at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

It follows a call from the hospital this week for immediate action to free up beds currently occupied by patients who should be looked after elsewhere.

The CEO of the LHIN, Laura Kokocinski, said the plan includes providing new spaces for those patients in other facilities.

 At one point this week, nearly 90 beds were being taken up by these patients. Kokocinski said the immediate goal is to find between 40 and 50 beds outside the hospital. 

"It's not eliminating the whole situation," she said.

"I want to be right up front about that. It will take the immediate pressure off. And what we're looking at is further solutions and further strategies."

Monitoring outcomes

Kokocinski said the Northwest LHIN is providing $300,000 to help community partners develop additional capacity. Over the next month the outcomes will be monitored on a daily basis, she said. 

"We've asked for daily updates on how things are proceeding, and we will be reviewing [outcomes] on a weekly basis."

Kokocinski noted that, as of Thursday, there were 75 alternate level of care patients at the hospital — down from 88 the day before.

"We want to commend the staff at the [hospital] for the work they have been doing during this very difficult time," she said. "They are still providing good quality care to the people that they see."

The LHIN has put out a call to primary care providers and urgent care centres in the city, asking them if they can open and extend their hours for walk-in clinics to take some of the pressure off the emergency room in the hospital.

"We are also asking the public to use some of the other resources in Thunder Bay rather than going to the ER...if that is not necessary," Kokocinski said.

Andrée Robichaud, president of the Health Sciences Centre, said "We appreciate the efforts of our health care partners for their quick response to the current over-capacity situation".  Robichaud contacted the LHIN earlier in the week calling for urgent action to deal with the gridlock in the hospital.