Hospital hit with fire code violation

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As it continues to struggle with a chronic bed shortage, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s earlier attempts to cope with that situation could see it get hit with a hefty fine for an Ontario Fire Code violation.
The city’s fire department says the hospital created “an unacceptable level of risk” when it opted to put patients in alcoves that were not designed for that purpose.
Regional, which has been in gridlock non-stop for nearly two months, has since stopped putting patients in alcove areas, Thunder Bay Fire Rescue said Wednesday in a news release.
Regional CEO Andree Robichaud is to address the issue today at a 10 a.m. news conference.
The charge under Ontario’s Fire Protection and Prevention Act carries a maximum fine of $100,000 for a corporation, but fire Chief John Hay said he doubts the hospital will receive the maximum amount in this case.
The charge was laid on Jan. 9 after the fire department told the hospital on a previous occasion that the code was being violated.
“I think that the message that was delivered to the top (in Regional’s management) didn’t get down to the bottom,” said Hay.
“Despite gridlock and bed availability issues, the hospital must maintain its obligation to the fire code and fire safety for patients, the public and staff,” he said in the news release.
The gridlock situation has meant that since Dec. 30, Regional’s 375 beds have been constantly full and some patients have had to be placed in alternatives areas, like patient lounges.
Regional has said that it would not have a bed shortage if long-term care patients currently residing at the hospital had somewhere else to go. Thunder Bay also has a shortage of long-term care beds.
Hay said that in his opinion, the province should be doing more to change the situation, either by giving the hospital more beds or more staff.
The Northwest Local Health Integration Network, the provincial agency that oversees hospitals in the district, said it may comment today.