Darcy takes Libs to task for RCH superbug

New Westminster MLA and NDP provincial health critic Judy Darcy -
New Westminster MLA and NDP provincial health critic Judy Darcy
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The superbug that has struck Royal Columbian Hospital has NDP health critic and New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy attacking the provincial government for procrastinating on a much-needed review of Fraser Health.

Darcy said the review was promised in November but the committee didn’t hold its first meeting until a couple of weeks ago and a final report isn’t expected until the summer. In her opinion the inaction has failed to address the chaos at Fraser Health and that is putting patients at risk.

“It appears nothing has happened yet,” said Darcy. “After three months with great fanfare how can it be just barely begun and doesn’t seem to be an immediate action plan. Those are not secrets, those have been around for a long time, and they’re not getting any better.”

On Monday, Fraser Health announced five long-term patients had been isolated at Royal Columbian because they had been tested positive for a bacteria (Carbapenemase-Producing Enterobacterlacae) that is resistant to many of medicine’s most powerful antibiotics.

“It’s very concerning. We know that there are various types of bugs that are superbugs because they’re super resilient to antibiotics. These are developing more and more with time. The issue is how they’re spread. There are factors that are conditions that make it easier to make it spread. Hospital overcrowding is one, people in hallways is another,” said Darcy.

She also said cleaning, which is contracted out to private firms, is also an issue especially since intensive cleaning is an important factor in keeping superbugs out of hospitals.

Darcy cited Nanaimo Regional General Hospital as a case where the Island Health Authority is paying a price for the BC Liberals’ decision to privatize cleaning.

“[A review] drew a direct connection between what happened with cleaning and conditions in the hospital and a major reduction in staff levels.”

“If housekeeping staff are under pressure to work faster and faster, there’s a far greater possibility [of a superbug setting in] … With less housekeeping staff than before, and turnover, and insufficient training it has an impact.”

Fraser Health infection protection and control medical director Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin said Monday the measures it has taken—including giving the patients their own medical and housekeeping staff wearing caps, masks and gowns—will have to be imposed for several weeks before they can leave the isolated ward, 5 North, at RCH.

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