ER crunch spills over into Tim Hortons at Royal Columbian
Monday night's spillover of patients at Royal Columbian Hospital's emergency ward into the adjacent Tim Hortons outlet for 90 minutes had New Westminster's three senior government NDP representatives on the attack Tuesday.
Dawn Black has been following the issue of overcrowding in RCH's emergency department for a decade, both in her current position as MLA for New Westminster, and previously as the area's MP.
"We've been having hallway medicine for a long time," said Black, who is serving as interim opposition leader while the New Democrats select a new provincial leader.
"Now we've moved to a new level of coffee shop medicine, which is outrageous."
Black called on premier-designate Christy Clark, who was elected BC Liberal leader on Saturday, to come up with a health care platform.
"She said during her campaign that health care funding should be tied to the [gross domestic product]. If that was the case, if this is her plan, and I hope it is not, it would mean a $750 million cut in health care," said Black.
If the provincial government can find the money to build an expensive Vancouver Convention Centre, to put a new roof on BC Place and to pay for other major projects, it can do so for health care, she said. "Much of it is priorities. It's about the political choices you make."
She also pointed out other provinces have come up with many successful innovative solutions that B.C. has chosen to ignore.
Fin Donnelly, who succeeded Black as New Westminster-Coquitlam-Port Moody MP, the riding where RCH is located, took up the issue during Question Period in Parliament on Tuesday.
"It's absurd. To have a doughnut shop as part of their resources is a sign of a problem," said Donnelly from Ottawa later Tuesday. "[Health care] is not on the Harper Conservatives' radar.
"It's an untenable situation. There needs to be immediate action. We can't have people being treated in space that wasn't built for treatment.
Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian called on the federal government to roll back corporate tax cuts to provide money for health care across Canada.
"The system is broken and now we have to fix it to make sure we have the quality facility to handle the workload, and quite clearly it's not working when you have to put them in a Tim Hortons. What's next, the parking lot? That's a pretty sad commentary on where our health care system is in this province and this country," said Julian.
All three NDP members said closing nearby St. Mary's Hospital in 2004 put a huge burden on RCH's ER.