March 11, 2013 - 11:23 AM
By Jennifer Stahn
With doctors in the midst of contract negotiations and emergency room wait times apparently rising, physicians in British Columbia started a campaign in February aimed at letting the public know just how bad the situation is in hospitals across the province.
Doctors working in B.C. emergency rooms have already posted a total of 15 videos describing the situation at their hospitals—with two Kamloops doctors among those calling on the province for change.
Dr. Alan Vukusic recorded his video after coming off a night shift where most of the beds in the emergency room were filled with patients that should have already been admitted to a ward. This meant those in the emergency waiting room faced an average of five hours wait time, even those with acute conditions such as chest pain.
Vukusic notes about two-thirds of people who came through the emergency room that night had to be admitted. “The state of our emergency department is inappropriate, it's not okay,” he states at the end of his video.
Dr. Anders Ganstal has been working in Kamloops for more than seven years and in that time has has seen a steady increase in the number of patients. Some improvements have been made. Transferring patients to other clinics and temporary funding earlier this year for two and a half extra physicians has helped but are considered temporary fixes with more beds and permanent doctors required to meet demand.
Ganstal notes many of those transferred to clinics still need to be admitted to the hospital and as a result many end up in hallways. The emergency room at Royal Inland Hospital usually sees 160 patients each day, sometimes up to 200 daily.
Contracts for the extra doctors end this month and the other 15 physicians at the hospital have been without a contract since last April, Ganstal says, “we're really asking the Ministry of Health and the premier to deal with this matter respectively and urgently so that we as emergency physicians can get back to doing what we were trained to do.”
Doctors at each of the hospitals were asked to rate their emergency rooms and while RIH received a good grade for number of doctors it was noted the hospital has seen an increase of 5,000 patient visits since 2010 without an increase to physician hours. RIH received a failing grade for overcrowding with doctors noting the hospital has been operating at or over 100 per cent capacity since 2009 with peak times reaching up to 135 per cent. The hospital expects to see 57,000 patient visits in the emergency department this year, an increase of 11,000 patients over 2009. Patients transferred in by ambulance are often left on stretchers in back hallways while waiting to be seen by a doctor.
Doctors involved with the campaign are asking patients to also submit their stories from emergency room visits and to help lobby the government by sending messages of support. The hope is to get the province to look at proper short and long-term solutions for emergency health care in B.C.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013