Officials seek solutions to chronic hospital bed shortage

The head of the North West Community Care Access Centre says she's working to solve chronic overcrowding at Thunder Bay's hospital.

Funding to free up more Thunder Bay patient beds not sufficient, North West CCAC official says

The head of the North West Community Care Access Centre says she's still trying to help solve chronic overcrowding at Thunder Bay's hospital.

In January, the CCAC received $300,000 to free up beds occupied by patients whose treatment at the hospital had finished, but CEO Tuija Puiras said that's not enough money.

Health officials in Thunder Bay say they are still looking for more long-term beds in the community for patients in hospital who no longer need acute care. (CBC)

"We did receive the funding, and we did take those people, but there's more," she said. "The hospital produces more of these people."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Local Health Integration Network said patients being treated for chronic illness should not be afraid of getting stuck in Thunder Bay's hospital.

Susan Pilatzke said it's not unusual to have some people waiting in the hospital after their treatment is finished.

Last week a hospital official said nearly 70 beds were occupied by those patients, and he's concerned the problem will be severe again this winter, as it was last winter.

The Northwest LHIN announced a plan last January to deal with the overcrowding at the hospital. Pilatzke said that work continues.

Proactive care needed

Puiras said the CCAC is working with the hospital to find other ways to relieve overcrowding.

When it comes to patients who no longer need acute care in the hospital, the CCAC's goal is to either get them the proper care so that they can return home or get them a space in a long term care facility, Puiras said.

"Some people truly cannot go back home. They need to go to long term care. Those are the ones [who], from our point of view, are stuck at the hospital because we don't have enough of the long-term care space."

She said part of the solution lies in a more proactive health care model — not a reactive one.

"I think that if we can get better care for people a little bit earlier ... it may not help the people who are in a situation right now," Puiras said. "Perhaps, little by little, we can start implementing changes. We are definitely going in the right direction, but the progression may be a little bit slower than many people would wish to see."

For those patients waiting on long-term care spaces, extra beds may become available at McKellar Place for Alternate Level of Care patients who remain at Thunder Bay’s hospital.