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Dix plans summer tour as B.C. hospitals, health care facing ‘crises’

Health minister says challenges different in each region, but broad issue of healthcare is a B.C.-wide problem

Health Minister Adrian Dix is planning a summer tour of hospitals across the province in the hopes of addressing the broad issue of health-care and acute-care demand.

While announcing a host of short-, medium- and long-term solutions and actions for Surrey Memorial Hospital Wednesday (June 7), Dix said he would be meeting with hospitals over the summer “to find solutions for their workplaces that work for them.”

RELATED: Help coming to ease strain at Surrey Memorial Hospital, Dix announces

“We know that other hospitals across the province are facing similar crises, with a growing population and staffing challenges.”

Dix said one of the common challenges is with the increased demand, is hospitals are running over capacity. Those periods are usually followed by periods of running under capacity, which “allows people to breathe a little bit,” but that’s not the case anymore.

“Every day, every single day, is intense across the system.”

He said what happens in emergency departments is “kind of a bellwether” of what happens elsewhere in the health-care system.

“If you don’t have good enough primary care, people have to go to the emergency room. If you don’t have enough long-term care, and people are on the wards, you can’t move people from the emergency room to the wards.”

It comes as health care across the province is at a breaking point, with some hospitals closing overnight or over weekends due to staffing issues.

READ MORE: Saanich Peninsula Hospital may see overnight ER waits due to staffing challenges

READ MORE: Emergency department at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater closed overnight

READ MORE: Another ‘unexpected’ doctor shortage closes Oliver hospital’s emergency room

At Surrey Memorial, Dix said the government’s plan “bolsters” and buildings on consultation with staff. Some of the short-term actions include: working with hospitalists to stabilize physician workforces, opening a care and triage unit in emergency, and increasing funding available for coverage. In the medium-term, plans include refreshing clinical service planning, expanding renal services within 18 months, building a second interventional radiology suite and completing the renovation of the existing operating rooms.

Asked if other regions and hospitals could see similar solutions, Dix said “it’s different in different places.”

“But the broad issue of health-care demand, acute-care demand is one that isn’t just a Surrey issue … There are lots of challenges throughout the system, and I think it would be differently felt.”

He pointed to a recent conversation with health-care workers in Fort St. James, which has a team-based care approach.

“They might be a little different there than they are in Surrey, but that’s why you have to go and see people.”

Dix didn’t give a specific list of which areas he’ll be visiting for the meetings.

READ MORE: Primary health care ‘collapsing’ in B.C. rural communities, critics say


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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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