Bursting At The Seams

Last modified on February 14th, 2008

While many of you may be out tonight doing something for Valentine’s day, just hope that you don’t hurt yourself and end up in an emergency room in New Westminster. Apparently the fire marshal was called in yesterday and was forced to clear part of the ER due to overcrowding:

The fire marshal has ordered an area of the emergency room at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster to be cleared because of overcrowding. Fraser Health Authority spokesman Michael Bernard said the fire department was called to the hospital after receiving a complaint about crowding.

“He took a look around the emergency room and found it was unacceptable crowding in one particular area where he wanted to have free access and egress in the event of a fire or a problem,” he said.


Eleven people were waiting to be assessed in the ER and 27 more were in the admissions area when the marshal arrived.

“He said you can’t operate like this. You can’t have people in the hallway. This is a bottleneck.”

While this may just be a temporary problem due to a sudden surge in people needing treatment, some people obviously think it is the it is the result of budget cuts over the years:

NDP MLA Adrian Dix said the crisis at Royal Columbian is a direct result of government cuts in recent years.

“This is the outcome of the cuts to the acute-care beds in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health authorities and the closure of St. Mary’s Hospital in New Westminster,” said Dix.

“The provincial government cut 650 acute-care beds. And the Campbell government got rid of St. Mary’s Hospital to build condominiums.”

He said the government made such a colossal mistake in closing St. Mary’s that it’s too “politically embarrassed” to do anything about the crisis it has caused at Royal Columbian.

The focus of the current news is obviously on the Royal Columbian hospital in New Westminster, but having personally spent time in both Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul’s this year, I can say for certain that overcrowding is happening in those hospitals as well.

And while you digest that little bit information, here’s my contribution for Valentine’s day.