It will take more than a new building to fix the problems at Burnaby Hospital, according to the 141-page report released today by the Burnaby Hospital community consultation committee.
"To summarize, the committee heard loud and clear from many presenters that Burnaby Hospital scarcely has the capacity to serve current needs, let alone the future needs of the hospital's growth catchment area population," the report stated.
The report, which contained statements and presentations from Burnaby residents, Burnaby Hospital doctors and nurses, as well as other experts and stakeholders, gave examples of many of the problems plaguing the departments at the hospital.
The original buildings are now 60 years old, with aging electrical and plumbing systems.
The hospital's electrical system is such a concern, according to Dr. David Jones, spokesperson for the committee, that WorkSafe BC will not allow the hospital to light its annual Christmas tree due to concerns about the safety of the electrical system.
Other issues include the lack of a sufficient number of sinks for staff and visitors to wash their hands - a key component in containing infections.
But one of the biggest issues is a lack of funding for the resources needed, according to the report.
Despite being the third busiest hospital in the region and receiving 70,000 emergency room visits per year, the hospital only has 33 emergency beds and one trauma room, the report stated.
The buildings (except for the newest one, built in 1975) are not earthquake resistant, the operating rooms are not large enough for the equipment needed in them, the buildings have to be shut down for electrical and plumbing work, and there are four to six patients to a room sharing one bathroom.
Surgery wait times for cataract, gallbladder, breast reduction, hand and wrist, and rectal surgeries, as well as operating room biopsies and breast biopsies, are the longest in the region.
The oncology department receives funding for 1,800 patients per year but treats more than 13,000 patients per year, according to Dr. W. Lam, an oncologist at the hospital. This number increases by 10 per cent annually.
The report found that building a new hospital is only part of the solution to the current problems.
The committee was told the hospital needs two trauma/resuscitation bays (it currently only has one), a grieving room, two or more paediatric assessment rooms, two or more isolation rooms, and more empty ER stretcher rooms.
The hospital has been contending with major health issues, particularly the ongoing C. difficile infection outbreaks reported over the past year and a half.
"A well designed and properly funded Burnaby hospital could lead to great things," the report concludes. "However, as noted numerous times in this report ... those who presented to the committee felt strongly that continuing the current funding and resource inequality documented in this report is to do a great disservice to the people of Burnaby and East Vancouver, and to the hardworking staff at Burnaby Hospital."
The committee was formed last spring with Burnaby-Lougheed Liberal MLA Harry Bloy as chair, Burnaby North Liberal MLA Richard Lee as vice-chair, and Pamela Gardner as citizen chair.
The committee conducted public consultations over the summer regarding the future of Burnaby Hospital and is submitting its report to Fraser Health and the Ministry of Health.
Fraser Health is currently working on a master plan for the possible expansion or replacement of the hospital.
The report has been the subject of a recent controversy regarding emails and a letter between members of the committee and Liberal Party insiders. The correspondence was given to The Vancouver Sun by the New Democratic Party of B.C.
The leaked letter, written last winter, indicated the consultation process for Burnaby Hospital began based on political motivations to retain the Liberal Burnaby North and Lougheed ridings, and to win the Burnaby-Deer Lake riding currently held by NDP MLA Kathy Corrigan.
The emails from September and October also indicated there were political motivations involved.
Gardner was a co-author of the controversial letter and wrote a number of the emails that were obtained by the NDP.
Last month, Fraser Health released a statement saying it would consider the report from the committee as part of the planning process.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated the hospital was built to serve 1,800 to 2,000 patients per year but now serves 10,000. In the report, those figures are actually for the oncology department only.