LETTERS: Lake fiddles as rest of us fume


Re: Fraser Health staff busy ‘putting out fires,’ July 10.

Your story announcing Fraser Health was planning a new care strategy appeared on the same day that a national report detailing the failings of major hospitals across the Fraser Health Authority.

In view of the serious problems exposed in the study – released by the national Canadian Hospital Reporting Project – the health minister’s intent to cut unnecessary use of hospital emergency rooms seems like Nero’s infamous fiddling while Rome burned.

Minister Terry Lake wants a “strategic data-driven re-examination” while the national study showed that Peace Arch Hospital operates one of the worst hospitals in Canada. Many of the safety deficiencies are directly related to poor nurse staffing levels.

The excuse is being given that too many people are using the emergency facility as a first-line medical clinic. Rather than ban people from making this choice, it would be better if PAH set up such a clinic near the emergency area and have triage direct appropriate patients in that direction.

The minister advises that we should avoid going to hospital for acute-care treatment – the primary reason patients are admitted – and must leave as soon as possible to avoid getting an infection. Avoiding hospitals because of risk of infection reminds one of primitive Victorian England’s hospital conditions. Moreover, since occupancy levels are well over 100 per cent, perhaps we should plan to make a reservation before we next require admission.

As one who has used Peace Arch several times in the last few years, I can only confirm how good the standards of medical care have been by nurses and doctors in spite of the terrible working conditions imposed on them. On almost every occasion, my wife and I – plus several friends – have found ourselves in beds in corridors scattered around the emergency department. Some nurses have told us there were empty beds, but funding had not been made available so that patients in these beds could receive nursing care.

In addition, doctors have had their funding pulled for optional surgery while cleaning duties have been outsourced to the lowest price – and lowest quality – for-profit companies.

Nonetheless, the administrators proudly display their national accreditation certificate in the entrance, boasting of their excellent level of care – facts contradicted by this latest study.

Herb Spencer, Surrey



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