This week I was exposed to the reality of our medical system at Peace Arch Hospital (PAH) when I had to rush my wife to Emergency as she was suffering severe pain after major surgery earlier in the month. The single doctor on the night shift had to deal with over two dozen patients. As a result, my wife did not see him for nearly four hours when she received her first pain medication. She was kept in for three nights – the first in the Cast Room, the second in a corridor in Emergency and finally one night in a real ward.
Her earlier surgery meant that she is now acutely sensitive to postoperative infection but this seemed to matter little as she spent almost 48 hours in a very busy corridor exposed to numerous strangers. She was assigned a surgeon on her second day who prescribed a morphine-based pain killer, even though it had been stated clearly several times that she is morphine sensitive.
Imagine my surprise to discover that the whole of the top floor at PAH is ‘blacked-out’ because the BC government will not fund the staffing to run the extra beds. Even worse, next door to Emergency is a large space (50% the size of the Emergency area) that is dedicated to ‘patient records’ – this could be readily converted to expanding the emergency department with the top floor being used for post-emergency beds. Patient records should be on a computer or in a warehouse nearby, not stored in the most valuable space in PAH.
We are being continuously told that “there is no more money for hospitals”. This is a lie – Gordon Campbell gave his rich political backers a $1000 million annual tax reduction in 2001; they have kept this billion dollar tax break ever since. There is plenty of money in this rich province of B.C.; our annual provincial GNP is over $200 billion but there is a lack of political will to tax those who can afford it (the top 10%) to provide the public services we demand for the 90% of us who can’t fly to the US when sick.
Yes, there is a Scrooge and she’s smiling at us from Victoria.
Herbert Spencer, Surrey