Health Sciences North has been dealing with bed shortages and hall-way medicine for a while and the situation has only worsened over the last couple of months according to the CEO.
CEO and president, Dominic Giroux says the hospital was designed for 441 patients, but since November they have admitted anywhere from 491 to 515 at the fall peak.
He says they also opened 29 additional beds including two 12-bed wards, but it is still not enough.
The Daffodil Lodge Terrace is being revamped over the next four weeks he explains to add 40 new beds, possibly more at the Lodge.
Giroux says renovations are underway and they hope to have the additional beds available for January.
He adds they are also actively recruiting for 55 new positions for the expansion.
“It’s important for us to continue to be proactive and create additional bed capacity to meet the needs of our surgical patients, increased demand during flu season and future COVID-19 hospitalizations,” adds Girox. “According to Ontario Health, HSN has the highest occupancy percentage in the province, when compared against Ontario hospitals with more than 100 acute beds. This is further evidence that HSN was built too small.”
The number of admitted patients does not include 60 patients receiving care from St. Joseph’s Continuing Care Centre at the Clarion Hotel, established in April as part of HSN’s pandemic surge plans.
He adds since November, HSN has increased its volumes of surgeries to 110% of historical levels to continue to reduce its surgical waitlist. HSN’s surgical waitlist, which normally stood at 3,700 patients pre-pandemic, rose to 4,200 patients by September and has since been reduced to 4,000 patients. The enhanced surgical volume requires HSN to open more beds.
“This is the time of year that we typically experience increased pressure for our limited beds,” adds Lisa Smith, Vice-President and Chief Nursing Executive at HSN. “We are functioning at over-capacity on most units already and need to create capacity and flow out of our Emergency Department. Over the last three years, average monthly occupancy at HSN has increased by an additional 23 to 48 patients from November to February.”
The Daffodil Lodge Terrace opened in 1991 to provide accommodation for up to 70 cancer patients travelling for treatment from outside of Sudbury. In the last fiscal year, an average of eight residents stayed at the Lodge daily, says Smith. “At least two floors of the Daffodil Lodge will function as patient units until the summer of 2022, when 52 new beds will open at the site currently occupied by the Children’s Treatment Centre which is moving to the Southridge Mall. As required, HSN may increase the number of hospital beds at the Daffodil Lodge to 60 by using the fourth floor.”
“With physical distancing requirements, residents at the Lodge are no longer able to socialize and share common experiences with other cancer patients as freely as they used to,” explains Maureen McLelland, Regional Vice-President, Cancer Care and Vice-President, Social Accountability at HSN. “Since the pandemic started, cancer patients are being discouraged from gathering with others outside their rooms for their own protection since they are immunocompromised. Common areas and group spaces that were once a refuge for travellers were closed at the Lodge in early March due to the pandemic and remain closed. As a result, many cancer patients are choosing hotels which offer larger rooms and amenities that are better suited for their needs.”
She adds HSN is working with patients who would usually stay at the lodge and partnering with local hotels near the hospital that have been underutilized during the pandemic, to ensure a smooth transition for all in January 2021.
“The Lodge Coordinator will continue to work with patients and families from out of town who typically stay at the Daffodil Lodge, to help them find convenient lodging. The Lodge Coordinator will also continue to help patients as they navigate along their care journey while at the Cancer Centre. This includes helping with transportation between appointments. There will be no change to current processes with how cancer patients access radiation and systemic treatment services or work with the Lodge Coordinator.”
Current capacity pressures at HSN are exacerbated by the fact that more than 100 long-term beds in the city of Greater Sudbury are currently closed because of provincial directives or infection prevention and control measures due to the pandemic. In November, HSN had an average of 34 patients waiting for long-term care placement.