A Question Period exchange today (March 1, 2017) between Health Minister Terry Lake and NDP members Jodie Wickens (Coquitlam-Burke Mountain) and Selena Robinson (Coquitlam Maillardville). (Draft transcript).
J. Wickens: Yesterday the Minister of Health said that a situation at Abbotsford Regional Hospital — a situation that a local doctor described as dangerous overcrowding — was simply the fault of the weather. According to the minister, patients should just accept that “Winter is a busy season.”
Let’s talk about a different hospital. On January 22, Jean Donaldson was admitted to Eagle Ridge Hospital. She had suffered a brain bleed the night before and was unable to move her right arm.
Jean is a senior with strong ties to her community and strong ties to Eagle Ridge Hospital. She expected to receive the care she deserved. Instead, Jean spent 36 hours on a gurney in the lobby beside the gift shop.
To the minister, my question is: does he think that is good enough, or is he going to blame the weather again?
Hon. T. Lake: I characterized one of the members opposite’s comments as “ridiculous” the other day. I didn’t think I would hear a more ridiculous comment than I heard the other day, but we just heard it today.
I did not blame the weather. I said, in fact, that it is a busy time of year, as the member well knows. That’s not just about the weather. It’s about viruses. It’s about the fact that every winter we experience influenza epidemics. We experience slips and falls. It puts a lot of pressure on our hospitals, particularly in the emergency departments. I experienced it myself on the weekend.
But what I witnessed, as I’ve witnessed in every hospital around this province, is that the highly trained professional men and women who work in our hospitals don’t make excuses about the weather. They treat people, and they treat them with professionalism and compassion.
The members opposite…. That member’s riding is benefiting from a $1.2 billion hospital, and that member’s riding is benefiting from a $1.2 billion hospital. The member for North Coast — her riding is benefiting from a brand-new $50 million state-of-the-art hospital.
In community after community in the province of British Columbia, health care facilities, new health care facilities, are being built because they weren’t built when the members opposite had the opportunity.
S. Robinson: Well, given that flu season comes around every single year, I would imagine that we would be better prepared for the busy season.
So I want to get back to Jean Donaldson, because this is really about people. To add insult to injury, Jean Donaldson noticed something very interesting while she was on that gurney in the lobby hallway, as she lay there looking at the walls because there’s nothing else to do when you’re in the hospital lobby. She noticed that the staff had placed her directly below a plaque on the wall, a plaque that actually had her name on it.
You see, Jean Donaldson loves her community and loves her community hospital, and she had a plaque on the wall with her name on it, commemorating her donations to Eagle Ridge Hospital. Here she was, staring at that plaque in the hallway of the lobby. She was embarrassed and humiliated about having to be, for 36 hours, in a gurney in the hallway.
I want to know: why does this government believe that it is okay for vulnerable seniors to languish in the lobby outside of the hospital gift shop while waiting for a hospital bed?
Hon. T. Lake: It is, in fact, the case that winter time is busy. We know that. The members opposite would seem to think that they, had they had the opportunity, would build capacity to 150 percent to accommodate the busiest days of the year and leave hospitals half-empty the rest of the year — good stewardship of taxpayers’ money.
In fact, when they had the opportunity, they didn’t build one single hospital. They talked about building a hospital in Abbotsford. It never got built until this government took power. New hospitals. New hospitals in Haida Gwaii. New hospitals in Penticton. New hospitals in Kamloops. A new concept plan for a hospital, Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace. From community to community to community — not to mention the new St. Paul’s and the redevelopment of Royal Columbian Hospital — the list is extensive. We’ll continue to invest in top-quality health care facilities in the province of British Columbia.
Source: B.C. Hansard.