Plan in Place to Ease Pressures at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre


THUNDER BAY, ON  ----   January  12, 2012 ---  A plan is being implemented, effective today, to address the urgent over-North West LHINcapacity issues at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre which have overwhelmed the hospital’s existing emergency department surge capacity plans.

The Health Care Capacity Plan for the City of Thunder Bay is focused on reducing pressures at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, and will ensure continued safe, quality care for the people of Northwestern Ontario, said Laura Kokocinski, CEO of the North West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).

Despite the urgent situation, patients will continue to receive the care they need at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

“We need the public to help us out during this period of high demand,” Kokocinski said. “We encourage people to use health care alternatives available in the community, where appropriate, to help them avoid visits to the emergency department at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, including primary care, walk-in and after-hour clinics.”

The Health Care Capacity Plan was developed by the North West LHIN, in partnership with Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, St. Joseph’s Care Group, the North West Community Care Access Centre and Wesway.

The plan will:
                           • reduce the pressures on the hospital’s emergency department; 
                           • improve patient flow, both within the hospital and to the community;
                           • provide new spaces for Alternate Level of Care* (ALC) patients in other facilities and alternate locations in the community; and
                           • create additional long-term care spaces.

With approximately $300,000 of funding from the North West LHIN, community capacity will be increased and allow patients from Thunder Bay Regional to be moved out of the hospital, into the community with the supports they need. This will reduce the number of patients in the emergency department, waiting to be admitted.

"We appreciate the efforts of our health care partners for their quick response to the current over-capacity situation at our hospital," said Andrée Robichaud, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre's President and CEO. "Our staff has been working at over-capacity for an extended period of time and additional community capacity is essential. The staff is working very hard to continue to provide service even as our internal surge capacity plans have been exceeded, and I want to thank them for their continued dedication."

* Alternate level of Care (ALC) is when a patient occupies a bed in a hospital and does not require that intensity of service in the setting. High ALC rates mean that patients are waiting in an inappropriate care setting; and when the system is overloaded and all beds are filled, this creates a backlog of patients waiting in the emergency department for admission to hospital and, patient flow through the system is impacted.

To avoid visits to the emergency department, people are asked to consider the following options:

Family Health Care Provider
If a health condition can wait, a patient’s family health care provider (physicians and nurse practitioners) offers ongoing care such as health advice, vaccinations, examinations and prescriptions. They also have a complete understanding of the health history of individual patients.

NorWest Community Health Centre
525 Simpson Street

The community health centre offers clinical care from doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians, social workers and other kinds of health providers under one roof. They offer care to those populations that have, for whatever reason, traditionally faced barriers accessing health care.

The NorWest Community Health Centre has urgent care clinics Monday – Thursday from 4:30 – 8:00 p.m. and on Fridays from 1 - 4 p.m. Over the next several weeks, the centre will be expanding its urgent care clinic hours. Call 622-8235 for more information.

Community Walk-In Clinics and After-Hour Clinics
At a walk-in clinic, patients can see a nurse or doctor, without an appointment. These clinics offer convenient access to advice, assessment and treatment for minor illnesses and injuries such as cuts, bruises, minor infections, sprains and skin complaints.

As well, many medical clinics, family health teams and nurse-practitioner-led clinics operate after-hours as a walk-in clinic for rostered patients.

For a listing of clinics, please go to:

Thunder Bay District Health Unit
Flu vaccinations are available on Wednesdays at weekly immunization clinics at the Health Unit. Call 625-8346 to make an appointment.

Under new regulations introduced last fall by the Ontario government, pharmacists now have the authority to prescribe some drugs, renew non-narcotic prescriptions for up to six months, administer the flu vaccine and provide advice to people with chronic conditions. Patients with chronic conditions or prescription issues are urged to talk to their pharmacists.

Telehealth Ontario
Talk to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-866-797-0000.

“St. Joseph's Care Group is committed to responding to the needs of the people of Northwestern Ontario and will continue to work with our health care partners to support this plan to address the overcapacity issues at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.”
- Tracy Buckler, President & CEO, St. Joseph’s Care Group

“It is important for all health care partners to work together to ensure that the residents of Northwestern Ontario are able to access the appropriate health care services in the right location when they need them.”
- Tuija Puiras, CEO, North West Community Care Access Centre

“In addressing the current capacity crisis, I believe the North West LHIN and the health care partners have taken bold and creative steps. Without a doubt, respite for family caregivers is one of the key components of a truly effective health care system. We look forward to doing our part by setting up additional respite spaces in the community to help meet the current challenges being faced at TBRHSC.”
- Daniel McGoey, Executive Director, Wesway

The North West LHIN is responsible for planning, integrating and funding local health services – hospitals, long term care facilities, the Community Care Access Centre, community health centres, community support services and mental health and addictions agencies. The North West LHIN and its Board of Directors are responsible for over$600 million of health care services delivered in Northwestern Ontario.



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