Sudbury

Sudbury hospital patients staying in lounges, offices as HSN copes with chronic overcrowding

The head of Sudbury's hospital says the overcrowding problem at Health Sciences North isn't going away any time soon.

"Demographic tsunami," long-term care bottleneck part of the problem, says hospital CEO Dominic Giroux

Health Sciences North CEO Dominic Giroux says Greater Sudbury has lost 165 hospital beds in the last 20 years, but on top of that, he says part of the current overcrowding problem is that people who need long-term care outside the hospital have no place to go.

The head of Sudbury's hospital says the overcrowding problem at Health Sciences North isn't going away any time soon.

Dominic Giroux is responding to questions after an elderly Sudbury man spent 10 days in a hospital bathroom because of overcrowding. 

​In an interview with CBC News, Giroux said a bottleneck in long-term care options to transition people out of the hospital is part of the problem.

But, he said population statistics tell much of the tale. 

"There's a demographic tsunami," he said. "We know the populations is aging. We're not seeing many cranes in the city right now for more long-term care capacity, so that problem will continue and will get worse. And to me, that's a sign of a system that's under stress."

Leo Seguin recently spent 10 days in this bathroom while he was a patient at Health Sciences North. (Supplied/France Gelinas)

Giroux said the main Health Sciences North site has been over-capacity for at least a year, and has set up makeshift spaces to cover the equivalent of about 40 beds. 

"So we have family lounges that have been re-purposed where we accommodate four to five patients. We have a number of offices and other types of spaces that have been re-purposed, and yes, we have five shower rooms, or tub rooms, that are being used by patients.

"In the case of the 'spas' as the front-line staff call it, this is really our second-last resort," Giroux continued. "Our last resort is hallway spaces, and we try to avoid that." 

Giroux said the province could take some of the pressure off of HSN and other hospitals by addressing issues in long-term care and palliative care, but the bottom line, he said, is that Sudbury's hospital needs more beds.

One option to create those beds would be to re-locate some of the HSN's existing programs to one of its 13 sites in the city, but as Giroux pointed out, money is needed to do that. 

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