The government says a $14 million investment from the province to improve access to emergency care and enhance community health care services will help patients in Thunder Bay get the care they need.

The funding will support Thunder Bay’s three largest health care providers: Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, St. Joseph’s Care Group and the North West Community Care Access Centre.

New initiatives to enhance care in the community include:

  • Helping to recruit up to 10 full-time and 14 temporary emergency room doctors to improve access to urgent care.
  • Staffing 10 acute-care hospital beds to treat up to 600 more patients every year.
  • Expanding a nurse outreach program to provide up to 500 more seniors and people with complex care needs with home care.
  • Creating 26 new hospital beds to help more people with long-term illnesses or disabilities receive specialized care.
  • Funding up to 17 more spaces in supportive housing to help seniors and people in need of care remain independent.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of months of planning with our health partners in the North West LHIN,” said Joy Warkentin, board chair at the North West Local Health Integration Network in a news release Friday.

“Working together with Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, St. Joseph’s Care Group, the North West CCAC, the City of Thunder Bay and other service providers, we have developed an exciting plan to ensure residents from all over northwestern Ontario have better access to the health care they need and deserve.”

Ontario’s minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Deb Matthews came to Thunder Bay for the announcement.

Deb Matthews

Ontario’s minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Deb Matthews, was in Thunder Bay to announce a $14 million investment in health care services for the city. (CBC)

 “Our government is committed to making sure patients get access to the health services they need, when they need them,” she said.

“This much-needed funding will help relieve pressures at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, make sure patients have care when and where they need it, and ensure more people in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario have access to home, community and specialized care.”

Hospital president Andree Robichaud welcomed the funding.

“Reducing pressures in Thunder Bay’s hospitals means that our dedicated doctors, nurses and other health professionals can better deliver the highest quality of care to residents,” she said.

“This investment is an important step in addressing the unique demands of delivering health services in northern Ontario.”

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s emergency department is one of the busiest in Canada with more than 105,000 annual visits by OHIP-registered patients in 2013, the province reports.