Kamloops hospital overcapacity consistently since November

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KAMLOOPS - Royal Inland Hospital’s head administrator isn’t sure what’s causing a capacity surge at the hospital, but says it’s something the hospital is prepared to deal with.

Carol Laberge says the hospital is continuing to run above capacity, and is currently at 122 per cent.

“We usually sit at 102 per cent to 105 per cent,” she says. “The government suggests around 95 per cent.”

Running at 130 percent above capacity equals approximately 60 extra patients.

The hospital has been running above capacity regularly since November when the winter surge started, Laberge says. The surge typically ends in mid-April, but things haven’t slowed down.

She cites a few reasons for the high capacity: mental health, the aging population, alternate care patients waiting for space, the shortage of general physicians in Kamloops and a late flu season.

About 30,000 people in Kamloops are without a family doctor, which means more people coming to the hospital, she says.

The hospital is seeing a rise in both substance abuse cases and mental illnesses like depression. She says this may be a combination of more people recognizing mental illnesses and the downturn in Alberta’s economy.

Leberge says there are some initiatives being worked on with the health ministry to help alleviate the issue. The hospital also uses a local motel to help with patients who don’t need acute care, but don’t have a place to go.

The issue isn’t just in Kamloops though, she says many hospitals are overcapacity. While she doesn’t know exact numbers, Laberge says Salmon Arm and Kelowna are both above capacity right now as well.

For now the hospital pulls in extra staff to deal with the increased patient load.

“We do it for as long as we have to, the patient care comes first.” she says. “It’s not ideal.”

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