This week I was exposed to the reality of our medical system at Peace Arch Hospital when I had to rush my wife to emergency, as she was suffering severe pain after major surgery earlier in the month.
The single doctor on the night shift had to deal with more than two dozen patients. As a result, my wife did not see him for nearly four hours, when she received her first pain medication.
She was kept in for three nights – the first in the cast room, the second in a corridor in emergency and, finally, one night in a real ward.
Her earlier surgery meant she is now acutely sensitive to postoperative infection, but this seemed to matter little as she spent almost 48 hours in a busy corridor exposed to numerous strangers. She was assigned a surgeon on her second day who prescribed a morphine-based painkiller, even though it had been stated several times that she is morphine sensitive.
Imagine my surprise to discover that the whole of the top floor at PAH is ‘blacked-out’ because the B.C. government will not fund the staffing to run the extra beds. Even worse, next door to emergency is a large space – 50 per cent the size of the emergency area – dedicated to patient records. This could be readily converted to expanding the emergency department, with the top floor for post-emergency beds.
Patient records should be on a computer or in a warehouse, not stored in PAH’s most valuable space.
We are being continuously told that “there is no more money for hospitals.” There is plenty of money in this rich province; our annual provincial gross national product is over $200 billion, but there is a lack of political will to tax those who can afford it – the top 10 per cent – to provide the public services we demand for the 90 per cent of us who can’t fly to the U.S. when sick.
Yes, there is a Scrooge, and she’s smiling at us from Victoria.
Herbert Spencer, Surrey