B.C.’s Health Minister is promising to expand Surrey Memorial Hospital, which will be on top of a new hospital in Cloverdale.
Adrian Dix said health services in Surrey are stretched thin by a growing population south of the Fraser River.
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He said details on the expansion will be released in the fall.
In the meantime, Dix said the health authority will be turning to local clinics and home care to help free up hospital beds and unclog the Surrey Memorial emergency room.
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“Together, with Fraser Health, with doctors, nurses and health-care workers at Surrey Memorial Hospital — we’ve identified short-term, medium-term, and long-term actions,” Dix said.
“To meet the growing demand for health services in Surrey and to bolster Surrey Memorial Hospitals’ function, we will be expanding the existing hospital by improving and increasing capacity for more patient care, surgeries and clinal programs.“
Immediate actions include:
- Working with hospitalists to stabilize their physician workforce to ensure continued access to inpatient medicine services, while also working to establish a new contract
- Increasing funding available for additional physician coverage, nursing and allied health services including opening a care and triage unit in the Emergency Department
- Utilizing nearby community health-care services to relieve patient demand at the Emergency Department, including additional resources to expand hours of Urgent and Primary Care Centres
- Introduce an interdisciplinary team for Child Youth Mental Health for emergency care and staffing for pediatric emergency department
- Increasing the number of internal medicine positions to support admitted patients and build out an internal medicine clinical teaching unit to support recruitment
- Increasing capacity in outpatient and community services to discharge patients safely 24/7.
- Focusing on psychological and physical health and safety of staff by augmenting available counselling services on-site for medical and health-care staff and continuing with the hiring of additional relational security officers
- Funding for the additional workforce such as clinical associates, associate physicians and nurse practitioners
- Targeted international recruitment of medical and health-care staff.
For the medium-term goals, in conjunction with Fraser Health, the B.C. Ministry of Health will be focusing on these targets for the hospital:
- Adding a modular unit within 18 months for the expansion of renal services
- Building a second interventional radiology suite at Surrey Memorial Hospital which will enable stroke and cardiac specialty expansion
- Adding two Cardiac Catheterization Labs at Surrey Memorial Hospital
- Adding net new MRI and CT and replacing existing CT with cardiac capabilities to increase access to diagnostic services
- Completing renovations of existing Operating Rooms to expand capacity
- Expanding critical health-care services such as outpatient, home health and home support services, clinical social work, physiotherapy, rehabilitation and respiratory therapy
- Expand the Urgent Care Response Centre and Gateway Mental Health services to 12 hours seven days a week
- Renovation to the paediatric emergency waiting areas
- Increased access to transitional beds for vulnerable patient populations by purchasing new care spaces
- Building out innovative and digital services such as Hospital at Home, Digital Front Door and virtual specialty consult services
- Significantly increasing resident physician allocation at Fraser Health and including Surrey Memorial Hospital as their “home residency” sites
- Enhancing Fraser Health’s successful in-house learning institute to close critical gaps on allied staff and nursing.
- The new hospital being built in Cloverdale is expected to add a reprieve to the region’s strain on health services as well.
More details, including dates, will be provided through the fall 2023 annual capital planning process in the next five months, according to the government.
The announcement comes on the heels of a number of Surrey doctors, nurses, staff and patients voicing concerns about the level of care at the Surrey Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Urbain Ip, now a clinical assistant professor at UBC’s department of emergency medicine and the former medical director at Surrey Memorial, told Global News he wouldn’t send his own family members to the facility.
Ip said patients could wait 48 to 72 hours before getting proper care due to a shortage of hospitalists — doctors who admit patients to the hospital’s wards.
And he alleged Fraser Health had actively worked to prevent doctors from going public with concerns.
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A few days later, Dix disputed allegations that doctors are being prevented from sharing their concerns.
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“There is no restraint on people speaking out at Surrey Memorial Hospital or anything else. That no-restraint is protected in regulation,” Dix said.
“I think doctors have expressed their concerns very strongly, at Surrey Memorial Hospital and elsewhere. I spoke to doctors who expressed it directly to me last week in a public forum.”
Ip’s comments followed an open letter from doctors at the hospital warning of “unsafe conditions” amid emergency room congestion and a shortage of admitting hospitalists.
Dix said that the province has tabled a contract offer to hospitalists, and that negotiations were ongoing in a bid to address their concerns and reach a deal.
More than 35 physicians and midwives at Surrey Memorial Hospital have added their voices to the chorus criticizing the institution for a lack of resources affecting the quality of care.
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In an open letter to the “citizens of Surrey,” the women’s health providers claim a “crisis caused by chronic and pervasive under-resourcing” has led to “unsafe conditions and adverse outcomes.”
According to the letter, the challenges have resulted in one newborn death, “countless near misses” and “moral injury” to care providers at the beleaguered hospital.
“Women often lack access to effective pain management and do not receive the necessary privacy during and after childbirth,” the letter states.
“The strain on our resources prevents our teams from delivering care that is required and expected, directly resulting in poor outcomes which fall sharply below the standard for a tertiary level maternity care centre in our province.”
The signed letter states that it is a direct response to a May 15 letter from dozens of emergency room (ER) doctors at Surrey Memorial Hospital, who warned of “unsafe conditions” and a failure to communicate the breadth of the “crisis to patients and the public.”
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— With files from Elizabeth McSheffrey and Simon Little
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.