ER at Abbotsford Regional Hospital bursting at the seams

ER needs to expand to serve the growing population

Re: Abbotsford hospital ER expansion pushed back to 2019.

In your article, Fraser Health’s assertion that the recent re-organization of health care departments at Abbotsford Regional Hospital (ARH) will result in more space for “emergency services” is simply wishful thinking.

The emergency room (ER) at ARH is bursting at the seams.

Recently, it has been seeing a daily average of 10 to 12 patients being treated in the hallway. Hallway nursing poses many challenges to the ability to provide safe care.

For example, some patients awaiting treatment for C-difficile were left in the ER hallway because there were no isolation rooms available. This is an extremely serious infection risk.

Other patients are parked in stretchers around the nursing desk, doubled up in cubicles, in exam bays, and decontamination rooms. Sometimes the stretchers are so close together there is only room for the nurse to squeeze between them.

Patients also wait in chairs in various areas, including the waiting room.

This is unacceptable.

A hospital is the last place most people want to be. Then to have to wait and be treated in a hallway makes it even worse not only for patients but their families as well.

BC Nurses’ Union completely rejects the notion of hallway care. It contradicts safe patient care practices and negatively impacts the health and well-being of care providers.

Nurse staffing issues continue at the ARH ER, where there are vacancies. Fraser Health management must ensure that there are sufficient nurses in the staffing mix to provide quality patient care.

The 10-year-old ARH provides much- needed health care services to a growing community that is home to a population of over 140,000 residents, an international airport as well as a university.

As the 2016 census shows, Abbotsford’s population is increasing. The ARH ER needs to expand to serve the growing population.

If properly planned and constructed, strategies for fixing the ER at ARH can alleviate patient and family distress, raise staff morale and decrease costs.

The expansion of the ER must proceed immediately. It is the right thing to do for patient care.

Christine Sorensen

President, BC Nurses’ Union

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