Over the past month or so I have had the opportunity to experience the
workings, and efficiencies (or lack) of three of the Lower Mainland's
Emergency Departments. These included, Surrey Memorial, Delta, and
Peace Arch, in White Rock.
It is interesting to note - since these visits I have talked to several people who
have all had visits to one of these hospitals, their experiences run
from wonderful to a nightmare. All the emergency departments had instances of both.
I would like make it very clear, the staff at all these Hospitals,
without exception were, professional, kind, hardworking and dedicated.
However for my wife and I (Both in our mid-seventies), the experience
in these departments, was tiring, frustrating, and dehumanizing.
a wife in pain with (what turned out to be) a broken collarbone having to
sit in a major emergency ward for seven hours waiting to get an x-ray -
then being told it might be more than an hour to have the results, is just
not acceptable. Even more so when an a frail elderly woman next to you
advises she has been waiting over two hours - for the x-ray results, and had
been there over nine hours!
It amazed us when the senior nurse on duty at one department, in a very
stern tone, scolded us for leaving after only one hour and forty-five minutes.
She indicated to us that was a very reasonable time to wait. What she didn't seem
to take into consideration was one of us was in real pain. We had been told the wait
would be at the very, least, another two hours. Went home to bed.
The next morning, at my doctors suggestion, we went to another
emergency department - told them I had no pain at the time, but described
the pain from the previous morning. Within minutes I was in a bed, had heart
monitors plugged in all over my body - had an x- ray and a CT Scan, all
within two hours.
Having had such wildly varying experiences, it makes one wonder why
one department gives excellent care while another appears to
be slightly less than perfect. Maybe more to the point - is there an answer
to this very serious health problem?
Certainly I am no health care expert, however I do have a few observations.
The most important factor is, The Luck of The Draw. How busy it is. The number
of staff on duty. Who are on duty. Yes some staff are better than others.
When any of the above Emergency Departments are busy there appears to me there
are never enough Doctors or Nurses on duty. There are never enough beds. The wait
to receive an x Ray usually takes hours, and than often takes hours to get it read. I
assume this means there is a lack of professional staff to perform these tasks in
a reasonable time.
At some of these hospitals the quality and comfort of the chairs, for those who often
must wait many hours, in real discomfort, is substandard to say the least. Believe it
or not - a little comfort when sick or injured is IMPORTANT.
The pay parking at the Emergency Departments, in my opinion, is a disgrace. And the
enthusiasm of the ticket givers is poetry in action. At Peace Arch Hospital I received a
$80 ticket because I had by mistake put an out of date handicap sign on window. These
vultures from a multinational company preying upon people worried about loved ones
is to my mind disgusting, unacceptable, and must be removed from BC hospitals!
It appears to me that the obvious solution to the situation is money. Be it a small user pay
amount or whatever, it boils down to money. I understand we have the MRI's, CT Scans,
Ultra Sound machines, etc., we just do not fund the personnel to run them full time, thus
the ridiculous length of the wait times.