Staff at Langley Memorial Hospital are not happy that the lights in the parking lot have gone out several times this spring, leaving night-shift workers to walk to their cars in the dark.
“We all started packing flashlights in our purses,” said one LMH staff member, who asked that her name not be used.
According to the staffer, the lights were off for three different nights this spring, and another night half the lights were off.
Staff were worried about personal security for themselves, patients, and visitors, as well as basic safety, since they had to navigate to their cars in the dark. Some staff began walking to and from their cars in pairs.
“Nobody should have to walk alone in a dark parking lot,” said B.C. Nurses Union president Christine Sorensen, noting that there have been assaults on nurses leaving or arriving at work in the past, including a carjacking on Vancouver Island.
The two parking lots at Langley Memorial include a visitor parking lot closest to the main entrance, and across a road a second, larger parking lot accommodates both staff and overflow visitors.
Both are pay parking lots.
“Earlier this week, it came to our attention that the lights in our parking lot were off one night last week,” Fraser Health said in a statement Friday, May 17. “We immediately looked into the matter and resolved the electrical issue.”
The issues were with an electrical short, and were not connected to the ongoing construction of a new road and the expansion of the Langley Memorial emergency room, according to a Fraser Health spokesperson.
“In terms of security in general, we offer security escorts to and from the parking lot for anyone who requests it,” the statement said.
Sorensen noted that as she understands it, there weren’t security staff stationed in the parking lot to meet nurses arriving.
The staffer who contacted the Advance Times confirmed there were offers of security escorts, but said there often aren’t enough security personnel available, and some people have been waiting as long as half an hour for an escort on the nights the lights were off.
Fraser Health said the number of security staff and patrols have been increased since the start of the new ER construction.
When nurses work 12 hour shifts or more, they shouldn’t have to wait another half hour to go home and get their rest, Sorensen said.