Breach surrounds early bed closures
“All providers have to obtain approval from the LHIN if they stop, start, or enhance a service,” North East LHIN spokesperson Lara Bradley said in an email statement.
“HSN did not receive the LHIN's approval from the LHIN when it made the decision to close the FAO beds early. The LHIN raised concerns with the hospital about the timing of the closure, such as that it corresponded with peak flu season (Jan.-Feb.).”
Despite requests from Northern Life, neither the North East LHIN or Health Sciences North has agreed to an interview about the issue, although both organizations provided email statements.
Hospital spokesperson Dan Lessard said in an email statement that the hospital did not attend the North East LHIN's Nov. 21 meeting, during which the hospital's accountability agreement breach was discussed.
As a result, the hospital “can't comment on deliberations that we were not a part of,” he said. “We have never received notification from the LHIN that we are, in any way, in breach of our accountability agreement.”
Until recently, the FAO unit housed 30 alternate level of care (ALC) patients at the hospital's Sudbury Outpatient Centre, also known as the former Memorial Hospital.
ALC patients are those who no longer need acute care, but cannot find placement in a long-term care facility or find other appropriate community care.
In November, the hospital announced it would close the FAO unit Jan. 27 instead of March 31, as was originally planned.
That's because the program was costing too much and because the hospital needed the space at Memorial to create a day program for the elderly.
Although the unit was due to close Jan. 27, long-term care placements couldn't be found in time for all of the patients because of flu outbreaks in local long-term care facilities.
As of Feb. 5, there were still five patients in the FAO unit, but hospital spokesperson Dan Lessard said in an email statement these remaining patients will transferred to the Ramsey Lake Health Centre site that day.
There are currently 88 ALC patients at the Ramsey Lake Health Centre site, which is significantly more than there have been in recent months.
Martha Auchinleck, the North East LHIN's senior director of performance support, brought Health Sciences North's accountability agreement breach up at the organization's Nov. 21 meeting.
“As a result of this breach of the accountability agreement, the LHIN is tasked with determining corrective measures,” she said in her report to the board, adding that the organization would “seek the advice of the LHIN legal branch.”
When asked if there will be any consequences for Health Sciences North for breaching its accountability agreement with the North East LHIN, Bradley said the matter is now being dealt with “at a governance level.”
“Our chair, Elaine Pitcher, is working with HSN's chair, Russ Boyles,” she said.
Neither Pitcher or Boyles responded to a request for an interview.