Health Sciences North is now operating eight more beds for alternate level of care (ALC) patients than it has funding for at the former Memorial Hospital site.
As of March 31, the hospital only has funding to operate 30 beds at the facility, known officially as the Sudbury Outpatient Centre. It currently has 38 beds open.
At one point last month, the unit, which was previously funded for 60 beds, was down to the prescribed 30 beds.
A surge of patients at Health Sciences North in the middle of the month forced hospital officials to move some ALC patients to the Memorial unit.
ALC patients are those who no longer need acute hospital care, but have not yet found placement in a community facility such as a long-term care home.
There are also currently 74 ALC patients being cared for at the hospital's main Ramsey Lake Health Centre site.
The extra eight patients in the Memorial unit are being placed by the North East Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) in long-term care homes or other appropriate facilities on a priority basis, Health Sciences North senior vice-president Joe Pilon said.
“We're confident the CCAC will be able to address this in the next little while,” he said. “I'm not sure what the timeline will be, but hopefully it will be soon.”
North East CCAC CEO Richard Joly said the city has roughly 40 or 50 vacancies in long-term care homes per month.
He said the patients could be accommodated in long-term care homes or sent back home with enhanced support services through a CCAC program called Home First. Joly said the majority of those at Memorial need long-term care.
One of the floors where patients had been previously cared for at Memorial has been closed down, meaning the facility is in “overcapacity,” Pilon said.
“But it's not quite the same as the hallway patients we have when we're challenged over on the main site,” he said.
He said three more patients are sharing a room because of the situation. There were also five patients occupying the old intensive-care unit at Memorial; whereas, there was room for 10 patients there. Another five patients have been moved to this area.
Pilon admits having an extra eight patients at Memorial will have an impact on the hospital's budget. Closing one of the floors at the facility has reduced the overhead the hospital has to cover, but the patients still need to be cared for.
“That's extra cost we're going to have to incur and absorb over the next little while until we can get back down to the 30 patients,” Pilon said.
Even without this situation, Health Sciences North was already facing budget woes. The projected deficit for 2011-2012 fiscal year is $9.6 million, although Pilon said in a previous interview that he expects it to come in at less than that.
The North East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) has given the hospital until Sept. 30 to balance its books.
Posted by Arron Pickard