A patient is decrying overcrowded conditions at Campbell River’s new hospital after his bed was placed in a hallway, and his story is raising questions about capacity issues in the provincial health care system.
“The hospital is just over capacity,” said Campbell River resident Mark Sernes, who was hospitalized recently for an acute pancreatic condition. “Fantastic facility, but unfortunately it’s just too small.”
Mark Sernes had a bed in a double-occupancy room at the hospital, where he was recovering after three nights of intensive care last month.
He spent two nights in a general ward before staff moved his bed into a hallway on Nov. 29.
With people constantly walking through a nearby door, he said, the area was noisy and there was no privacy.
“There would be no way anyone could get any sleep there,” Sernes said. “It would be next to impossible, unless they were heavily sedated.”
Sernes asked for his medication and went home, saying he’d return for tests the next day at 6 a.m.
“I basically refused to stay there,” he said, adding that the experience was highly stressful.
Sernes later asked staff why he’d been shunted into the hallway. A nurse told him that he was considered mobile and the healthiest person in the ward. Sernes said no doctors were involved in the decision.
“They’re making these decisions on whether somebody’s mobile or not, or can go to the bathroom by themselves,” Sernes said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the healthiest person.”
It wasn’t the first time Sernes had experienced hospital overcrowding. During a stay at Campbell River’s old hospital, he was placed in a hallway bed – and he said it aggravated his condition.
Sernes stressed that he’s not blaming staff, but rather that his problem is with an overburdened health care system.
“Everyone’s just doing their best but overworked,” Sernes said.
He urged other patients to come forward with their concerns.
“That’s the only way we’re going to get anywhere, if we stand in numbers,” he said.
Story continues below image.
|Local resident Mark Sernes is speaking out about what he calls overcrowded conditions at the Campbell River hospital. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror|
The Mirror reported in 2012 that the old hospital was “overflowing.” The following year, a group of doctors – along with MLA Claire Trevena, who is now Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure – spoke out about plans for the 95-bed facility, saying it wouldn’t be enough for patients’ needs.
The doctors also said they felt they’d been “coerced” into accepting plans for the new facility, which opened last year.
BC Nurses’ Union (BCNU) president Christine Sorensen said on Tuesday that the union is completely opposed to “hallway nursing” but that it’s becoming the new normal.
“Patients languishing in hallways is considered unacceptable,” she said. “We have always said that hallway nursing in any hospital poses a risk to safe patient care.”
Those risks include the outbreak of infections and blocked emergency exits, Sorensen said. She also noted that it causes distress among nurses because it prevents them from providing quality care.
Sorensen said that while seasonal maladies like the flu account for some of the overcrowding, B.C.’s health care system faces a number of complex issues.
Too few nurses are stretched among a growing number of patients, an issue that’s been worsening significantly over the past 5-7 years, Sorensen said.
Community health and long-term care services – which are meant to reduce pressure on hospital beds – also fall short, meaning that people end up back in the hospital, Sorensen said. She called for a greater number of funded beds.
“We encourage patients who need acute care services in the emergency room to come – nurses will be there to provide the care they need – unfortunately, that may be in a hallway, and it is not how nurses like to provide care,” she said.
Island Health said in a statement that hospitals across the province are “incredibly busy” and that “capacity issues are an ongoing challenge, particularly when seasonal illnesses such as influenza (are) a factor.”
When patient surges occur, hospitals open temporary overflow areas and “all patients are cared for with appropriate staffing levels,” according to the statement, which was attributed to Dermot Kelly, a regional executive director with Island Health.
“In extremely busy times, we may care for patients in areas such as hallways,” Kelly said, adding that certain protocols are in place to “provide the best care possible” in those cases.
Kelly acknowledged that staff are stretched at the Campbell River and Comox Valley hospitals, noting that those facilities have some 90 job vacancies combined. Both areas have rental and housing affordability issues, creating problems for staff recruitment and retention, he said.
He noted strategies are underway to address capacity problems, including “work to reduce the length of stay within hospital and improve access to care in the community,” citing a variety of measures geared towards people with mental health or substance abuse issues, and services for the medically frail.
He also pointed to $75 million in spending the B.C. government announced in June for the expansion of respite care and adult day programs, which are meant to take pressure off of those who provide care to friends and relatives at home or in the community.
Kelly also said Island Health has increased the number of surgeries being performed at hospitals on the North Island in accordance with a provincial government surgical strategy announced in March.
“While this has resulted in more surgeries being performed and reduced wait times, it has increased the number (of) hospital visits and stays,” said Kelly, who is responsible for the North Island region and part of the central coast.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canada has 2.5 hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants, the fifth-lowest rate among the OECD’s 36 countries.
Comments are closed
Falling oak tree causes minor damage to Langford home
Tree damages garden and gutters of home on Lindsay Place
Central Saanich pig hogs the limelight by crashing Saturday night party
Pig reunited with owner thanks to ROAM
Saanich police looking to identify suspect in Brydon Park assault
Victim confronted suspect about the way he was treating his dog
Residents to start moving into first of 100 new affordable homes in Langford
Construction underway on second phase of affordable Indigenous housing project in Langford
Cyclist taken to hospital after collision in downtown Victoria intersection
Cyclist suffered non-life-threatening injuries
The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap
Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading
POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?
With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading
Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review
A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago
Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor
GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop
3 people dead in Prince George motel fire
Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages
B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations
MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021
B.C. records 3 new COVID-19 deaths as total test positive cases top 3,000
Province identified 18 new coronavirus cases
District recruits 11 CRD municipalities to join pilot project to look at 40 km/h residential limit
Victim confronted suspect about the way he was treating his dog
Club moves on after 53-years with First Nations logo
The agency also lost track of 34,700 people and was not conducting regular follow-ups
Oak Bay council resumes meetings in chamber
Items linked to several thefts across Greater Victoria
Celebrations are underway to mark the annual gathering of the controversial Rainbow Family of Living Light