Although she couldn't speak to the details, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre president and CEO Andree Robichaud said a plan has been submitted to relieve overcapacity pressures on the hospital.
The North West Local Health Integration Network has given a plan to the province that would increase community capacity for alternative level of care patients taking up space at the hospital, said Robichaud Thursday morning.
After more than 50 consecutive days, the Health Sciences Centre was finally out of gridlock Wednesday evening.
But the overcapacity issue led to a charge for a fire code violation for placing patients in alcoves not meant for patient care.
"We've been using alcoves for over four years, prior to my coming here," Robichaud said.
Last year the fire department asked about the use of alcoves and the hospital worked with Thunder Bay Fire Rescue to assess the risks of using the spaces for patient overflow.
"I think that when you're looking at what are your alternatives, we felt the alcoves were safe. They were close to the nursing stations. The nurses could observe the patients at all times," said Robichaud.
"But when the fire department looked at this and said 'there are not doors, this is a risk, we need to find alternatives,' we worked with them to find alternatives."
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The solution was to use patient lounges, but they had to be renovated before simply moving patients in.
They moved the last patient from an alcove to a patient lounge on Nov. 4, 2013. The fire inspection was done Nov. 1.
"We couldn't move quickly enough," said Robichaud, noting they had to equip the lounges to be sufficient patient areas before they were suitable to use as rooms.
The hospital has been working with the LHIN, St. Joseph's Care Group and the Community Care Access Centre to find capacity within the community for ALC patients.
The Health Sciences Centre has 56 ALC patients that require care outside of the hospital like long-term care or rehabilitation.
The LHIN-drafted plan would give an interim solution to the overflow situation until construction on St. Joseph Care Group's Centre of Excellence of Integrated Seniors' Services is complete. That facility will house 416 long-term care beds to replace Grandview Lodge, Dawson Court and Bethammi Nursing Home.
Robichaud said she's positive the province understands the situation and that the problem lies within community capacity.
"I'm hopeful government will respond pretty quickly and we'll be able to move forward," she said.
North West LHIN CEO Laura Kokocinski said the plan is in draft form and hasn't yet been handed into the province.
They are still having discussions with various health care providers on what resources already exist in the city and they don't have a timeline on when the plan will be complete.
"We continue to engage with them to see what else can be done. We're looking at how we're going to continue to address the overcapacity issues," said Kokocinski Thursday afternoon.
When asked if spaces like the Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital and McKellar Place could be used to temporarily house ALC beds, Kokocinski said they are looking at all options.
"We're not ruling anything out at this point in time," she said.
The LHIN is working as quickly as they can to look for both short and long-term solutions to the capacity issues, she added.
"(The hospital) has been doing a really good job of looking at what efficiencies they can create within their environment. We are very supportive of what they've been able to do and we recognize they are working under very difficult times at the moment," said Kokocinski.
The TBRHSC has a court date of Feb. 26 for the fire code violation charge.