Windsor hospitals under capacity heading into flu season

Up until 2017, Windsor hospital capacities were at about 150 per cent. Now, they're below 100 per cent, after a focused effort to keep capacity numbers at bay. 

"We said, 'You know what, we've got to fix this,'" said Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) CEO David Musyj. "We examined different models across the world and the one we picked up was happening in the U.K. We were able to bring that here."

According to Musyj, approximately 85 per cent beds should be occupied, to ensure patient and employee safety.

"Hospitals in the province right now are running at about 100 per cent, 110 per cent," said Musyj. "We're running at about 90 per cent."

That breaks down to about 99 per cent capacity at the WRH's Ouellette campus and 85 per cent at the Metropolitan campus. 

The U.K. model creates a "landing spot" called "bay beds" which provides an interim, temporary spot for people to land, so that people aren't waiting more than four or so hours in emergency for a bed. While patients wait in the interim location, decisions are made hospital-wide to ensure patients are placed in rooms according to various policies.

It took about $2 million to implement this plan, which was started in 2017. In 2018, the hospital received a funding surge of $1.7 million which added 33 beds to Windsor Regional Hospital.

Katerina Georgieva/CBC

"We had to do this, we had to do this ourselves," said Musyj, adding that they didn't receive any external funding to put this plan in place. "We're running a deficit, using the bank to finance this operation."

Now, there's provincial money to put plans like this in place — and Musyj said he hopes the Ontario Progressive Conservative government will recognize the work that's been done at WRH. 

Still, capacity at Ontario hospitals jumps too high more often during flu season. Musyj said keeping the standing below capacity going into flu season is important. Last winter, Windsor Regional never reached capacity even during flu season. 

"The things we did here, we wouldn't have been able to do without the [Local Health Integration Network], the [Community Care AccessCentre], long-term care homes here," said Musyj. "It was a team effort."

Musyj said with changes happening to the Local Health Integration Network, he had reached out to the interim regional director to ensure Windsor hospitals wouldn't lose traction with their success.

CBC News reached out to interim regional director Bruce Lauckner, who had no comment, instead directing us to the Ministry of Health media department.