Abbotsford’s hospital aims to reduce congestion

Not enough staff to look after patients, according to Linda Pipe of the B.C. Nurses' Union

There are an estimated 100 patients in hallways at any given time across the Fraser Health Authority’s 12 hospitals.

There are an estimated 100 patients in hallways at any given time across the Fraser Health Authority’s 12 hospitals.

Officials at Abbotsford Regional Hospital (ARH) are trying to get people out of the corridors and acute care beds and reduce overall congestion as part of a broad initiative across Fraser Health.

One of the new methods includes having home care staff based at emergency departments to intercept incoming elderly patients. Some can be redirected back home and treated there with sufficient home support, according to Brook Richardson, executive director of ARH.

“At this time we’re moving forward to streamline operations. And it’s more than just a hospital perspective, it’s also a community perspective,” she said, adding it’s about using multiple resources of formal and informal care.

The hospital’s emergency department has a geriatric nurse who focuses on elderly patients and liaises with external healthcare workers to keep hospital beds free for acute care.

The move coincides with a deadline set for Fraser Health by Health Minister Mike de Jong to pursue measurable improvements in five key areas to reduce hospital congestion within 150 days.

One of the numbers de Jong wants to see drop is the roughly 100 patients across Fraser Health who at any given time are being treated in hallways or other areas not designed for clinical care.

Fraser Health spokesman Roy Thorpe-Dorward said that number is typically about 10 patients in ARH on heavily congested days.

But Linda Pipe, spokeswoman for the Fraser Valley region of the B.C. Nurses’ Union, says that number is closer to 20 or 30, because of those patients who are temporarily placed in bathrooms or closets.

She said ARH has been struggling to meet demand since it opened four years ago with roughly the same number of beds as the old hospital.

“They (the provincial government) closed St. Mary’s and they closed Shaughnessy, and you’re seeing the repercussions of what they’ve done there,” she said.

Nurses are struggling physically and ethically with having to work with patients in hallways, citing a lack of privacy, confidentiality and toilet facilities. The latter is particularly important because without proper hand-washing facilities there will be a rise in infection rates, she said.

But Thorpe-Dorward said infections like C difficile aren’t as much of an issue in Abbotsford because it’s a newer facility. He said Abbotsford’s year-to-date rates are 4.6 cases per 10,000 patients, down one per cent from last year, and well below the national average.

ARH’s enhanced cleaning and hand-washing strategies also take credit, he said.

Other minister-set targets include a cut in the average length of patient stay in hospital, an increase in the percentage of admitted ER patients getting a hospital bed within 10 hours; and a goal of treating 90 per cent of broken hip cases within 48 hours.

Pipe said these goals seem unrealistic with a deficit of community health workers and registered nurses.

“We agree that the best place for people to live out their remaining lives, especially seniors, is in their home. The problem is there’s not enough staff to look after them.”

Fraser Health last year treated 3.9 per cent more hospital patients and recorded a five per cent increase in inpatient days as well as a 7.3 per cent jump in ER visits.

The 2,200 acute care beds across 12 hospitals are routinely full.

Richardson said more specialized hospitals like ARH routinely absorbs patients from outside their municipality.

“When I think of Hope and Chilliwack and those smaller communities, Abbotsford is a higher level of care facility, so we welcome individuals coming from other parts of the Fraser Health area,” she said.

An independent expert panel interviewed 500 clinicians and workers in Surrey Memorial and Royal Columbian hospitals, releasing a report in April identifying congestion issues across Fraser Health.

— with files from Jeff Nagel

Just Posted

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

(file)
Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read