‘Boiling point’: B.C. doctor says Surrey Memorial Hospital is in crisis – BC

A B.C. doctor is sounding the alarm about the ongoing crisis at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Urbain Ip has been practicing emergency medicine for the past three decades and says he feels he has no choice but to speak out about the ongoing issues.

He is now a clinical assistant professor at UBC’s Department of Emergency Medicine and the former medical director of Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Click to play video: 'Surrey doctor speaks out about ‘crisis’ at Surrey Memorial'

Surrey doctor speaks out about ‘crisis’ at Surrey Memorial

“The main problem over the last many months is we are having a so-called house doctor shortage,” Ip told Global News, which can also be referred to as a hospitalist physician who provides care to patients while they are in the hospital. They provide care outside of the ER within the desired 48 hours.

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“The hospitalists (are) negotiating (the) contract with the province or with Fraser Health,” Ip added. “They don’t have enough human resources to fill all the shifts that that they need to fill.”

Dozens of emergency room doctors at the hospital penned an open letter warning last week of “unsafe conditions” at the facility.

The letter, made public Monday, said health leadership and elected officials have failed to communicate the state of the “crisis to patients and the public.”

“Our Minister of Health is correct in stating that conditions are ‘challenging,’ however an important point is missing: Patients are suffering severe adverse outcomes including death at Surrey Memorial Hospital,” the letter states.

Click to play video: 'Surrey Memorial doctors warn of ER crisis'

Surrey Memorial doctors warn of ER crisis

Ip said the majority of the patients at the hospital are taken care of by house doctors who take care of them throughout their stay.

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“Now, the combination of these two problems, not enough acute care beds, that we always have, but not enough house doctors has escalated this crisis to a boiling point.”

In the letter last week, it stated these problems have left people waiting days without the attention of an admitting physician.

“Many patients have suffered, and some have died while waiting,” it states. “We believe that some of these horrible outcomes could have been prevented if Hospitalist Physicians were available to see patients in a timely manner.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. health minister promises changes in Surrey'

B.C. health minister promises changes in Surrey

Doctors at the hospital have expressed concerns about speaking publicly about the issues, for fear of losing their jobs.

Last week B.C.’s health minister said there’s no gag order on doctors at the hospital.

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“We’re hearing from them, obviously, and that’s part of the debate,” Adrian Dix said.

But Ip was not concerned about speaking out. He’s concerned about the doctors working at the hospital and how the current system is affecting their mental health and morale.

He said he has heard from emergency physicians that when they go home they worry about their patient being admitted to the hospital and not being seen by another doctor in a timely manner due to the staffing shortages.

“It is not a good feeling. You know, there are people that keep calling the hospital, ‘how is my patient? How is my patient?’” Ip explained.

“That’s a terrible scenario. And the morale of this group of physicians is right on the bottom right now.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. health minister promises changes in Surrey'

B.C. health minister promises changes in Surrey

Dix said the province was “actively working” with hospitalists at facilities across Fraser Health to address the issues they’ve raised and, in some cases, to sign new contracts addressing them.

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“We’re going to work with doctors and the issues in Fraser Health and with hospitalists and ER doctors in Surrey and Langley. We’re going to deal with it the same way we dealt with primary care, the same way we’ve made significant progress with nursing — progress that is regarded as leading the country,” he added.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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