Politicians debate overcrowding at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

NDP MLAs put blame at BC Liberal government for emergency room 'used to warehouse patients'

  • Feb. 28, 2017 1:00 p.m.
Abbotsford Regional Hospital

Abbotsford Regional Hospital

Patients with life-threatening health issues are forced to compete for treatment at Abbotsford Regional Hospital due to critical overcrowding, according to NDP MLA Jodie Wickens.

Wickens brought up the issue during question period in B.C.’s legislature today.

“This weekend a doctor in Abbotsford came forward to say that the emergency room there is being used to warehouse patients that have been admitted,” she said. “The doctor says this means that when you come in with an acute life-threatening problem, there will be competition for care.”

Wickens blamed Health Minister Terry Lake for “[letting] this situation in Abbotsford deteriorate so badly.”

Lake said ARH has been rated as better than the national average at seeing patients within two and a half hours of their arrival to the emergency room.

“The people do amazing work at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and in hospital after hospital after hospital in this province,” he said. “So for the member [Wickens] to disparage the work of that hospital, I don’t think is accurate. In fact, they provide high-quality care.”

Wickens responded by saying it was the doctors and other front-line staff who have been reporting a lack of resources from the ministry of health.

She said the parents of three-year-old Nimrat Gill – who died on her second visit to ARH in as many days on Feb. 7 – blame the overcrowded hospital for not detecting her suspected pneumonia sooner.

NDP MLA Jennifer Rice also brought up the death of Mary Louise Murphy, who died soon after being released from ARH on Jan. 30.

Lake said the unnamed doctor who blew the whistle on overcrowding at the hospital did not blame overcrowding for the two recent deaths.

He also said that all hospitals are busy at this time of year.

“In the case of Fraser [Health], they are taking a number of measures to try to ensure that we don’t rely so much on the acute care system, opening up 400 new residential care spaces, using new tools to divert people from the emergency room when it’s not appropriate for them to be there.”

For more on this story, see Friday’s edition of The News.