'Domino effect' sees COVID-19 patients come north and other patients moved to smaller hospitals

COVID patients from jammed intensive care units in southern Ontario are being moved to hospitals in the north, which have their own overcrowding problems.

3 COVID patients from southern Ontario have arrived in Sudbury, 1 for Sault Ste. Marie hospital

COVID patients from overcrowded hospitals in southern Ontario have started to make their way to intensive care units in the north. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

COVID-19 patients from jammed intensive care units in southern Ontario are being moved to hospitals in the north, which have their own overcrowding problems. 

Health Sciences North says it is currently treating eight COVID patients in the intensive care unit at the Sudbury hospital, three of whom came up from the south in the past week.

The Sault Area Hospital also took in one patient last week and the Timmins and District Hospital says it is currently standing by to take in patients from hotspots in the south. 

To make room for the COVID patients, a senior staying in the North Bay hospital has been moved to New Liskeard.

Temiskaming Hospital CEO Mike Baker says they are happy to help, but worried with COVID cases in the area rising in recent weeks.

"We're taking what we can right now and we are concerned, we're trying to keep a balance between being available for our own community of course, but trying to help out with what's a very chaotic situation in southern Ontario," he says.

Mike Baker is the president and the CEO of the Temiskaming Hospital. (Erik White/CBC )

Baker says they've had to make seven new patient spaces in the Temiskaming hospital, including in what is normally the chapel. 

He says the real challenge for smaller hospitals in northern Ontario taking in extra patients is finding nurses and other staff to look after them. 

"It's sort of a domino kind-of effect for them, so they get to take more, we'll take some back here and that's a big challenge for us in that we're already very full," says Baker. 


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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