The Health Sciences Association deserves kudos for bringing up the issue of hallway medicine at Eagle Ridge Hospital, a concern that has rankled staff and patients for some time.
It turns out the wards rented out to The Mountain Between Us film production haven't been needed or used for some time due to improved patient flows, according to Fraser Health, but that doesn't mean there isn't a problem at ERH.
Maybe we are naive but it would seem that patients being treated in the hallways is a problem — it's not the film that created the issue but lack of space in the emergency department.
ERH is a tremendous community resource that provides needed health care services to thousands of residents each year.
But as the 2016 census showed, the region's population is increasing and ERH emergency capacity has not kept pace. In fact, in 2016, there were 50,619 emergency room visits. Of the seven community hospitals, ERH ranks third in the volume of patients served by the emergency department, and the hospital space is 50% of the recommended size.
As a result, there are times patients face long waits and, sometimes have to spend a few hours — even up to a day — in a temporary bed in the hallway.
This is not a good situation for patients or families as the last place they want to be is in the emergency department and being forced into a hallway, separated from the general public by a thin curtain at a time of illness or injury only adds stress to a difficult situation.
A master site concept plan has already been developed to provide for immediate and long range needs. What's needed is a green light for ERH emergency room expansion, estimated at $15.5 million.
Let's not see any more photos of beds in hallways. Instead, let's work together to ensure that ERH serves this community well now and into the future.
And local fundraising is not enough — we need to hear from the provincial government that funds for an emergency department expansion are on their way.