Emergency room congestion has plagued Abbotsford Regional Hospital for years. File photo

Emergency room congestion has plagued Abbotsford Regional Hospital for years. File photo

Some patients waiting for eight hours in Abbotsford ER: nurses union

Union calls for Fraser Health to finally fix persistent congestion issues

The BC Nurses Union (BCNU) said some patients spent up to eight hours waiting to see a doctor at Abbotsford Regional Hospital over the weekend.

The BCNU sent out a news release today that said it had learned that one patient “was placed in a shower room due to the congestion.”

The release said there were “dozens of hallway patients lined the corridors and various medical units of the hospital,” and BCNU acting president Christine Sorensen said “Nurses are crying in the break room, they are so fed up and tired.“

Sorensen said 57 patients were admitted to the ER, and criticized Fraser Health for not adequately preparing for the busy flu season.

The union said other backups have occurred at hospitals in Langley, Surrey and Ridge Meadows as a result of the holidays and the flu season.

“The practice of keeping patients in hallways is a concern when it comes to infection control,” says Sorensen. “It almost always means a lack of privacy for patients and limited access to bathrooms and sinks. It’s unacceptable and unsafe.”

Fraser Health and ARH have been dealing with persistent congestion issues for more than five years now. Sorensen said some improvements have been made, but that such congestion is “unacceptable” whatever the time of year.

“We see spikes in admissions around every flu season,” says Sorensen. “It’s time Fraser Health manages this problem and takes a closer look at recruitment and retention issues in the entire health authority.”

The BCNU issued a similar criticism of ARH and Fraser Health last March, saying that the hospital had been chronically understaffed for more than a year and was flying in nurses from other provinces.

Last spring, the government announced a $15 million expansion of the ARH emergency room following media coverage of the deaths of two patients who had previously been sent home, and after an Abbotsford News series highlighting the persistence of the problems.

The News has open requests to speak to new Fraser Health chair Jim Sinclair and to speak with Adrian Dix, who has been Health Minister since the NDP took office