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RCH emergency overflows into lobby
Patients received medical care next to the gift shop at Royal Columbia Hospital Tuesday as overcrowding forced staff to make ad hoc accommodations.
Five stretchers were set up in the hospital lobby after the emergency room reached capacity, according to Fraser Health Authority spokesman Roy Thorpe-Dorward.
He said the overcrowding came as a result of the post-holiday period, which is the busiest time for hospitals throughout Canada.
“We have a combination of increased illness at that time of year, even things like the flu, increased injuries related to falls, related motor vehicle incidences, (and) more people with chronic disease who have exacerbated conditions in the winter months,” he said.
Staff would usually use designated overflow areas, such as the hospital’s hallways, but those locations had already filled up, Thorpe-Dorward said.
The hospital also suffered from overcrowding in February 2011 when patients from the emergency room were shuffled into the adjacent Tim Hortons.
“A nurse can’t possibly give the quality of care that the public expects when the situation is like that,” said Liz Iltctzaszyn, spokeswoman for the B.C. Nurses’ Union. “It looked like a MASH area.”
There are a number of nursing vacancies open at RCH, according to Iltctzaszyn, but she said nurses would be reluctant to work in a “war zone.”
Thorpe-Dorward said the Fraser Health Authority recognizes that congested facilities create additional stress for people working in hospitals, but “we’re confident that the plans we have in place during this busier period allow us to continue to deliver the quality of care we need to.”