The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre says it expects some additional beds to be opened in the community this fall.

A total of 26 beds recently opened at the Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital (LPH), and 13 more are slated to open at McKellar Place, for people in hospital who need supportive housing.

Executive vice president Peter Myllymaa said it will help a system that's consistently running over-capacity.

“There really has been not much reprieve from the patient load. It has been high,” he said.

“We've been in gridlock now since March 18.”

Peter Myllymaa

Thunder Bay hospital executive vice president Peter Myllymaa says the facility routinely has about 30 more patients than the 395 beds for which it receives funding. (Adam Burns/CBC)

The beds opened at the LPH have resulted in 22 alternate level of care (ALC) patients being moved out of the hospital. ALC patients are those who need a bed for alternative levels of care, and who are staying in the hospital because there's a shortage of long-term-care beds in the community.

Bid funding disparity

As of Friday morning, there were 64 ALC patients at the hospital — a number that would have been 86 had the LPH beds not have opened.

While Myllymaa said he expects the new beds will make a difference, many of those beds are still not funded. The hospital routinely has about 30 more patients than the 395 beds for which it receives funding — the biggest reason it faces a projected deficit this year.

Currently the deficit sits at $5.5 million.

“The pressure associated with that — staffing levels, laundry, linen, and everything else that goes with it — that's really what's driving it.”

Myllymaa says the deficit doesn't take into account provincial funding announced earlier this year to open additional beds in Thunder Bay.

 “That … should create additional flow out of here … but again, it won't bring us down to the funded level of 395.”

Myllymaa said the hospital continues to work with the province to look for ways to get to that goal.