Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre officials hope a plan to convert family rooms into temporary patient rooms will put an end to housing overflow patients in hallway alcoves.
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Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is spending $165,000 to ease the pain of gridlock.
The money will be used to retrofit seven family rooms to accommodate patients once capacity is reached. The rooms will revert to their original use when beds are open elsewhere.
It’s a move designed for both comfort and safety, hospital CEO Andree Robichaud said on Friday.
It’s a far cry from the current solution, she added.
“Previously under gridlock we would put our patients in alcoves, so basically in the hall in our nursing units,” Robichaud said.
“We’ve been working with the fire department and it really doesn’t meet fire code. An alternate place is our family rooms. From a patient perspective it will be a lot better because it’s a room.”
Renovations involve the removal of carpets and the addition of curtains.
“There’s already oxygen and suction, so the people who built the institution probably did think that one day we may need these rooms,” she said.
“And we’re putting in some call bells, so this should be completed by mid-October. In terms of privacy, in terms of safety, our patients will be better.”
The 14 beds are two more than are available under the present system.
Robichaud said the hospital is not in gridlock at the moment, but with cold and flu season headed this way, it won’t be long.
Ultimately a solution for an alarming number of alternate-level-of-care patients housed at the hospital is needed, whether through assisted living or another facility designed specifically for their health-care needs will be required, she said.
The hospital on Friday had 59 such patients under its care.
For now the family rooms is the best answer when admissions go beyond capacity.
Robichaud acknowledged the move has its detractors, who have claimed more patients doesn’t mean more staff to handle the increased workload and does nothing to address the actual cause of gridlock.
It’s also a cause of concern for families members of patients, who used the rooms while at the hospital.
“Our priority is patient care. We apologize to the families,” Robichaud said.
“These rooms will remain family rooms when we’re not in gridlock. People will be able to use them when the patients aren’t here. I would hope that the families, if they have someone here and they understand that they’ll understand why we’re doing this.”
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