Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre notes issues with handwashing, staffing levels

Just a few weeks before a provincial state of emergency was declared, officials at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre were made aware of issues with handwashing among staff and a list of front line staff vacancies.

Issues highlighted at hospital board meeting just weeks before provincial state of emergency declared

The main entrance to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is blocked, forcing staff to use one of four entrances at the facility. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Just a few weeks before a provincial state of emergency was declared, officials at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre were made aware of issues with handwashing among staff and a list of front line staff vacancies.

The early March board meeting highlighted that staff were washing their hands between 57 and and 73 per cent of the time before starting a task with a patient or in a clinical setting. The report noted that number does not meet hospital expectations since the facility's target is 93 per cent.  However, it  blamed some of the problem on non-frontline workers at the facility, suggesting they were bringing down the rate.

Another report at the meeting also pointed out shortfalls in staffing, resulting in higher rates of sick calls, missed shifts, and increasing overtime at the TBRHSC.

The hospital noted it was short 35 nurses at the start of March, an improvement over the 57 nurses it was short in February. A large hiring spree in the late winter led to 68 job offers being sent out for new nurses. It is unclear if all of those offers were accepted.

A new software system to call-in workers may help alleviate some of the labour shortfalls, however, the report noted more corporate and cultural support is also needed for frontline staff.

The board also heard how the hospital, at the time, was having capacity issues when it came to isolation rooms and telemetry beds. The TBRHSC has said it has approximately 22 negative pressure isolation rooms available, with more coming online due to COVID-19.

The hospital said it has also expanded its housekeeping department, which has helped reduce the number of outbreaks within the facility.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.

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