Sudbury

Patients put in bathrooms, hallways with more overcrowding at Health Sciences North

Patients ended up in bathrooms and hallways at Sudbury's hospital this week with overcrowding the president of Health Sciences North describes as "not unusual, but more acute."

Hospital seeking $4M from province to add 37 more patient beds

Patients at Health Sciences North in Sudbury are being housed in lounges, hallways and bathrooms while the hospital is experiencing overcrowding. (Supplied/France Gelinas)

Patients ended up in bathrooms and hallways at Sudbury's hospital this week with overcrowding the president of Health Sciences North describes as "not unusual, but more acute."

"We also had over 30 admitted in the emergency department waiting for a bed. We also had 30 patients in the waiting room, waiting to go into the emergency department including 10 patients with chest pains, plus we had ambulances bringing more patients in," says Dominic Giroux.

He says on top of housing patients in lounges, hallways and bathrooms, the hospital was forced to reschedule about a dozen non-emergency surgeries.

Giroux says patients were also re-directed to other hospitals in northeastern Ontario.

He says the quality of care has not gone down, but the unexpected crunch of seniors waiting for nursing home spaces has meant they can't "catch their breath" after the busy winter flu season.

"It's a lot of pressure," Giroux says of his conversations with hospital staff. "They feel it every day."

He says Health Sciences North is in talks with the province to create space for 37 more beds within the hospital at a cost of $4 million.

Dominic Giroux is the president and CEO of Health Sciences North in Sudbury. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

"This situation is not going to go away," Giroux says.

The issue was raised this week at Queen's Park by NDP opposition leader Andrea Horwath.

"Can the Premier tell us why he's making hallway medicine worse instead of better?" she asked Premier Doug Ford.

He deferred the question to health minister Christine Elliott, who told the legislature that $384 million is being reinvested in Ontario's hospitals this year.

"We promised the people of Ontario that we would end hallway healthcare," she said.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath this week used the Sudbury hospital overcrowding as an example how the PC government has not eliminated "hallway health care" as promised. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

"We are putting that money into hospital operations this year, which should help to ease many of the situations Ontario hospitals are facing including Health Sciences North."

Horwath mentioned that Health Sciences North was close to declaring a "code orange" which is normally reserved for large-scale disasters. 

Giroux says Sudbury hospital staff were told that they were in a "pre-code orange" situation, but said it's only called when they are unable to treat the next patient who comes through the doors.

The head of Health Sciences North in Sudbury Dominic Giroux talks about the reality of running a hospital in the era of hallway medicine. 8:57

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