Tuesday, March 25, 2008

BC hospitals shut down in Code Orange, Code Purple alerts as BC Liberal break healthcare promises

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday March 25, 2008

Sound the alarm on the B.C. gov't


It's time to put patient care first. To do that, we must renew public health care, through better management, adequate funding, proper staffing and sound strategic planning.

- Premier Gordon Campbell, 2001 election platform

What a long, sad gap there is between the B.C. Liberals' lofty health-care goals of 2001 and the grim reality of March 12, 2008.

That's when Surrey Memorial Hospital declared a Code Orange alert, cancelling all non-emergency surgeries because of massive emergency room overcrowding, calling in off-duty doctors and keeping health-care workers on overtime.

Code Orange is extremely rare, reserved for emergencies with mass casualties, like earthquakes or floods. A Code Orange was declared last year when a small aircraft crashed into a Richmond highrise.

But not this time. It was because Surrey's congested hospital had 41 patients admitted in the ER and not one bed free. And it also happened in January.

Then there's Code Purple - an overcapacity alert just below Code Orange requiring other nearby hospitals to provide resources.

On March 10, Kelowna General Hospital issued a Code Purple because it already had 176 patients in the emergency ward instead of an average 140.

And there's New Westmin-ster's Royal Columbian Hospital, where, on February 12, the fire inspector ordered the emergency room cleared due to overcrowding.

That was the day of B.C.'s throne speech, which promised the government "will act to improve health care" and mentioned the word "health" 84 different times.

So you just might think all these alerts would alarm B.C. Liberal Health Minister George Abbott. Wrong.

"Anyone who thinks that the problem is going to go away is dreaming," Abbott actually told reporters, saying patients would have to get used to it.

"A lot of this demand is driven by a society that gets older, year over year, and is going to continue to do so," Abbott said. "This is going to be challenging for about the next 40 years, until the post-World War II baby boomers make their way through [the health-care system]."

Challenging for 40 years? Is Abbott kidding? Why should patients put up with substandard health care for four decades?

The B.C. Liberals have had seven years to deal with health-care problems. In their 2001 election platform, they even said: "Emergency rooms are overflowing in B.C."

Overflowing? Now overflowing emergency rooms prompt alerts reserved for floods!

And what has the government done? Closed St. Mary's Hospital in New Westminster with no replacement. Failed to meet a 2001 promise of 5,000 new long-term care beds by 2006. Closed acute care beds, causing increased waiting lists for surgery.

We need a Code Orange alright - for an incompetent, uncaring B.C. Liberal government that needs to hear the alarm.


Anonymous said...

Funny how the Campbell government is so quick to act on low enrollment in our public school system. Forcing school boards all over the province to close schools. But then when the opposite happens in our hospitals with overcrowding, cannot manage to do anything at all to help. Hint...BUILD MORE HOSPITALS! Perhaps booblehead Abbot can look into using those empty schools for conversion to small hospitals.

DL said...

After waiting for almost three years for a two hour operation, with an overnight stay in the place I find the comments by the Health Minister insulting. The way so many procedures are conveniently called "Elective" is most upsetting. How a procedure that moves a person from a walker or two canes, in constant pain , unable to put on their own clothes, to someone who can go back to work painfree, with no drugs a couple of weeks later, and no longer a drain on the system be called Elective Surgury is beyond my understanding. Sort of looks like the defining issue is , if death is not immediate, its elective. Or should we wait and if the person lives will it cost us more money to look after her or him.

Wait times are a figment of somebody's imagination. The clock doesn't start till the surgeon decided he will do the job,or if it will do the patien any good for her /him to do the job, and even then the dates can change either way depending on the sudden loss of beds , operating rooms and associated staff.
It will cost more money up front but. Open operating rooms for more days a month, allow the doctors more operating time. Get those hospital beds freed up for hospital patients instead of holding cells for folks who are waiting for long term care.Remember the 5000 bead bragged about but never delivered. The blaim os not directed at the persons working in the health system, it's the so called experts juggling the rather large amounts of money allotted. A quick study of the increased costs due to the restructuring of the health authorities might be a eye opener. Dix asks the hard questions and Abbott does his human windmill presentation. George you are getting to be a pain to watch and resolves not much of anything. My Gosh, when the Fire Marshall has to close a ER, some folks started blaming the Fire Marshall rather than the hospital authorities. Get a grip George. Do the job, or lose it. DL

Anonymous said...

I want to say that as an employee of Childrens hopital, the wait time can get to around 6hrs to see a doctor in emerg and even then there are people that leave because they dont want to wait....

I dont recall hearing that a code orange was implemented for the crash in richmond, it wasnt at our hospital, we were told that there was a plane crash and that we should be ready for a mass influx of patients and we started to get ready for it but this was quickly cancelled. We however, also implement a code orange alert if there is an emergency landing at yvr just incase something were to go wrong. Nevertheless, a code orange is the last last resort and i can only imagine what we would do if a mass casualties were to occur.

Anonymous said...

just before the 2005 election ,campbell and falcon had big photho op at surrey memorial announcing emerg-exp and ambulatory unit- to start in 2007 and 2008-with completion in 2009-2010. 2007 is gone -there`s still not a shovel in the ground -the completion os now for maybe 2011 and 2010 maybe-- priorities,road to ski slope sure-retractable roof for bc place-merely to allow a lit flame inside for 2 weeks-200million! a good year for art though!

Gary E said...

Has anyone else noticed that all these photo-ops and promises are being delayed, delayed, delayed? The reason for this is that the government has had to do something to placate the masses. So they are handing out candy now. But it is fake candy. You see, the promises thay are giving us now are the ones thay were going to use for the next election. They needed to figure a way to coverup these blatant farces they have created. So in order to have something for the next election they have to Stonewall. It's all a croc and I sure hope the citizens of this province can see through the BS.
There is a court case going on now that is also being delayed until after the next election. I'm speaking of the Basi-Virk trial. The government is throwing everything they can in front of this trial to delay it until after they lie their way through the election. They don't need any more egg on their collective faces.

I have never been able to figure out how so many elected officials, elected by the people, not big business, could have their heads stuck where the sun doesn't shine.

Anonymous said...

This present Government is run for the benefit of Gordo's 'friends' plain and simple. Watch the death rate soar in BC hospitals if this bunch if re-elected 2009. For those who think we have a democracy, shake your heads, old Joseph S of Russia would be proud of how Gordo runs this Province. What? Why do I have to listen to the Public as I got elected by the 'Bored' of Trade and a few other monied groups. ( The mining, business, power, oil and you-name-it lobbies.) Ah yes and when Gordo goes, as he will, he will have his future secured by those he has sold the assets of BC to in 999 year leases. He can then retire to Maui with whomever.

Anonymous said...

Gordon Campbell broke almost every election promise he made (expect to remove radar cameras...probably because he likes to speed). He is absolutely callous in his underfunding of the medical system, from "fair" pharmacare that leaves the poor and seniors without needed meds; to replacing community- minded hospital boards with high-salary executives that blindly follow his dictates and destroy public health care so they can justify private care.  Which Gordo and his peers can afford, but the rest of us can't.  I truly believe he hopes the poor and seniors will die, thereby relieving the medical system of expenses so he has more to spend on his legacy: the Olymipics.  Please, please, BC voters....vote him out before they start.  How fitting. However, since all media are owned by Gordo's wealthy peers...the public aren't told the truth about what is going on.  Or if the truth is put out there, it is  done so with a Liberal-friendly spin, and buried immediately.  (Reember Gordo's criminal charges? DUI? And remember how Glen Clark got drummed out of office for not paying a 'fair market price' for his deck?  Front page and editorials for weeks. Oh the power of the press!

Anonymous said...

Yes lok at the little Hospitals that they have closed or downgraded. Taking Emergency and operating rooms out of Ladysmith was a crime as it was constantly in use now it is a glorified doctors clinic that means urgent care that used to be little or no wait is now long wait. It closes at10:30 PM so then you go wait in Nanaimo or Duncan for four to ten hours. That is if you are lucky. As usual as this was happenning the people questioned but town council was MUM.

Anonymous said...

"Follow the money" CanWest read "The Asper Nation"! As far as I'm concerned, CannedWaste Global Corp. should be brought up on charges of complacency and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the BC Railgate scandal and how they turned the last Provincial election into an anti NDP scare tactic Re: BC Teachers will strike if NDP were elected!
The privatization of OUR BC Ferries!
The gutting of OUR BC Hydro!
The give away of OUR 535 public rivers to?
The gutting of OUR Universal Health Care by closing OUR hospitals, thus guaranteeing longer wait times, so as his little pea brain thinks that WE BC'ers will go along with his privatization of a nation! Not a chance.
Gordo and his gang of toddies are slaves to his corrupt corporations without any morals. conscience or self respect (without self-respect you are really the walking dead)for the people, only greed and the privatization of all humans seems your main goal!
OUR Public non-commercial CRTC (but Shaw abuses this CRTC law) channel 4 on Thursday 27 March at 8pm on "Voice of BC" V Palmer will have an open (I hope) forum about the Basi, Verk, Basi trial or in other words the 2003 BC Legislature raids Re: BC Railgate scandal involving Gordo's dictatorial Government and higher up the chain! "Follow the Money"

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