MHC developing guidelines for patient transfers


MANITOULIN – Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) is working with its partners at Health Sciences North (HSN) in Sudbury to develop framework so that, should HSN need to transfer patients due to overloading, a plan would be in place to manage those transfers.

In a document from the recent MHC board meeting, vice president of clinical services and chief nursing officer Paula Fields noted that HSN has requested help from area hospitals with its ongoing over-capacity issues. Despite the beginning of talks, MHC has not yet been asked to take on any patients from outside the District of Manitoulin.

Chief of staff Dr. Simone Meikleham also noted the HSN request for acute care patients in her report to the board.

“The physicians have agreed in principle to accept one patient at each site. A meeting is to be held November 19 and (was) composed of nursing management and physicians from both sides to work out the details,” Dr. Meikleham stated.

MHC president and CEO Lynn Foster declined to comment on the proposal.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging hospital capacities across Canada as infection numbers continue to surge. As coronavirus patients take up more beds for critical care, the space for less-urgent patients is reduced. 

Because HSN provides the most services in the region as a hub hospital, it is seeking to redistribute consenting and eligible patients among smaller hospitals, such as MHC, where they can still receive the care they need while making more space available for services that can only happen at the Sudbury hospital.

HSN spokesperson Jason Turnbull provided a statement to The Expositor to better explain the request.

“As the tertiary care centre for the region, hospitals across Northeastern Ontario rely on (HSN) to provide care for patients with complex and acute care needs that exceed their resources. HSN would only consider sending patients to another hospital in the region if that hospital has capacity to accept them, if the patient agrees to the transfer, and if the patient meets certain health criteria such as testing negative for COVID-19, does not have complex care needs and has not been deemed ALC (requiring alternate level of care),” the statement read.