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Saskatoon hospital violates fire code due to patient overcrowding

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The Saskatoon Fire Department says St. Paul’s Hospital is in violation of fire code requirements, with beds crowding the hallways and obstructing exit doors.

“Saskatoon Fire Department met with St. Paul’s Hospital administration this week and identified hallway crowding issues at it relates to National Fire Code requirement,” Assistant Fire Chief Yvonne Raymer said.

Raymer said the code issue involves not enough width to open exit doors.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said “the leadership team” met with the fire department and advised inspectors “that there are times when the hospital experiences overcapacity and patients may be temporarily placed in hallways.”

Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) said St. Paul’s has been overcapacity for weeks.

“It’s a hazard. They’ve got beds close to exits and all they have hanging off the bed is an oxygen tank. There’s no call bell,” SUN president Tracy Zambory said.

"Mid to late career nurses, 14 years plus, haven’t even seen it this bad.”

The nurses’ union president said hospital overcrowding is a "system" failure.

“People don't have physicians, so they come to the emergency rooms ... we've got people in beds that we can't discharge because they need care in the community that they can't get,” Zambory said, also referencing staffing shortages.

Zambory said flu season is putting more pressure on the existing problem.

Saskatchewan’s minister of health, Everett Hindley, said he’s aware of the overcrowding at St. Paul’s Hospital and is in talks with the SHA to understand the reason for the overflow into hallways.

“I’m aware of the concerns and have raised it with the SHA. It’s not something we expect or anticipate to be happening in our hospitals,” Hindley said.

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