Sudbury·Audio

Fewer ALC patients leaving Sudbury's hospital, causing surgery delays, HSN head Dominic Giroux says

Health Sciences North is hoping to move more alternate level of care patients out of hospital.

Health Sciences North had to reschedule most in-patient surgeries planned for this week

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

Health Sciences North is hoping to move more alternate level of care patients out of hospital.

The acute care facility is currently running at 104 per cent capacity — and patients waiting for surgery are having to wait longer.

ALC patients are those who don't need to be in an acute care setting and are waiting for space in the community, like a long-term care home.

Hospital president Dominic Giroux says they are looking at several options to move ALC patients, including asking families of patients waiting for long term care to expand their facility choices to include all local long term care homes.

That means the patient would stay at a different facility until a bed in their long term care home (LTC) of choice becomes available.

He says there are currently 40 vacant beds in city that are not identified as an ALC patient's first choice of LTC placement.

Sudbury's hospital is currently running at more than 100 percent of its capacity. Officials say they need to free up space as soon as possible. We spoke with Health Sciences North president Dominic Giroux about the issue. 8:31

"We're committed to reducing our wait-lists for surgeries as quickly and safely as possible," he said.

"We have 4,200 patients on our surgical wait-list, which is an increase of about 13 per cent compared to the same time last year."

The hospital had to reschedule most in-patient surgeries planned for this week.

'Surge beds' coming

Giroux says they have been able to ramp up surgical activity since June, but the pandemic restrictions on the long term care sector prevents the timely flow of patients into those facilities.

He notes that, since the pandemic began, LTCs had to close beds that were in multi-patient rooms (58) due to provincial directives — and another 48 beds were closed to minimize the risk of outbreaks of COVID-19.

Meanwhile HSN is opening up a number of surge beds in the coming days, including 28 additional beds at the Clarion Hotel in downtown Sudbury.

And they are considering "repatriating some patients to their home hospitals outside Sudbury, if it is safe to do so."

Giroux says the medium-term plan is to create 52 conventional bed spaces at HSN, noting that the details on that will be forthcoming.

In the long term, Giroux says they will be addressing the issue of a hospital that was "built too small."

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