Surrey Memorial ER crisis compounded by Campbell Liberals’ broken promise on long-term care

News release

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The breakdown in ER care at Surrey Memorial Hospital was predicted almost a year ago and can be directly linked to the Campbell Liberals’ failure to deliver on their promise to provide more long-term care beds, says the Hospital Employees’ Union.

Last month, the Cochrane Report into problems at the Surrey Memorial ER concluded that: “Because of the high occupancy rate of alternate level of care patients within the hospital, flow-through in the Emergency Department is limited and commonly curtailed.”

But nearly a year earlier, the Fraser Health Authority acknowledged that it had the highest proportion of non-acute patients occupying hospital beds and among the lowest number of residential care beds per 1,000 population over 75 years of age.

In its three-year operating plan published last April, the FHA admitted that “a significant portion of patients requiring hospital care wait in the emergency department prior to transfer to an inpatient acute unit” and that “available acute beds are the lowest by far when measured relative to population.”

The plan goes on to say that “a very large portion of patients is waiting in acute care beds for alternative care” and that access to available long-term care beds and to home support and home care is the lowest in the province. The report warns that the impact of not meeting these service demands is “over-crowding of emergency rooms and beds occupied by elderly patients.”

HEU acting secretary-business manager Zorica Bosancic says that the residents of Surrey are paying a high price for the inaction of the Campbell Liberal government.

“The crisis in the Surrey Memorial ER was predictable and has been compounded by this government’s failure to live up to its pre-election commitment to seniors’ care,” says Bosancic.

Since the 2001 election nine funded and partially funded long-term care facilities have been closed and the number of funded beds in many others has been slashed. The result has been a net loss in long-term care beds and more pressure on hospitals like Surrey Memorial.

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Contact: Mike Old, communications director, 604-828-6771 (cell)