Letter: Burnaby Hospital's ER was fantastic. The other ward, not so much.


I recently had the dubious pleasure of being admitted to the Burnaby Hospital emergency, where I found the nurses and doctors to be extremely efficient, kind and knowledgeable. I felt completely safe and secure in their care, my needs almost immediately attended to.

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I felt that every necessary test had been accomplished and the results reported to me. I was most satisfied. After one noisy sleepless night in emergency, I was transferred to a medical ward.
Here it was quite a different story. Beginning to feel myself, I wandered around the medical ward clutching my one-size-fits-all blue hospital gown at my back. Another unpleasant painful episode on this ward required much time before relief was administered. A requested warm blanket arrived 45 minutes later on the next shift.

Hot water instead of coffee was boiled but forgotten. I was told the nurse “would be right there” and 45 minutes later pressed the bell. It is an elementary rule that staff should say what they mean to do - and do it in a timely manner. The IV running time was to complete in 30 minutes I was told and it completed in 15 minutes. Surely a nurse needs to know this basic information?

My doctor was angry to hear that my first meal had been deep fried cod and coleslaw after 48 hours of clear fluids. A bib was thrown onto the side table without so much as a good morning or eye contact but with a practiced bulls-eye aim.
I was told that I must have assistance to shower, obviously no chart or visual assessment or reading of the white board opposite my bed to note that I was an independent 75-year-old who increasingly felt to have been placed on the wrong ward but realized it was the only empty bed available.
At mid-morning, I was told I may now have a shower and replied that I had already taken one independently. In my condition it was quite an experiencebecause first I had to push two wheelchairs out of the way to access the single shower cubicle. I then found the metal shower holder to be broken. Thus I flooded the floor and, being independent, mopped it all up and disposed of the towels.

My clean hospital attire lacked both working ties and functioning fasteners and so after some pink tape was located in a drawer, I taped my gown into decency much to the amusement of my roommate, who gave me a thumbs up.

Another issue was the fluctuation in water temperature - not conducive to safety of elderly folk.
The patient coordinator came to visit, standing above my bed and shouting at me until I reminded her that I was not deaf. I doubt she heard my complaints in any useful manner.
The euphemism of the Sunset Lounge on further investigation provided three large round tables jamming the centre space; a piano without a piano stool in sight but neither was there easy access for a wheelchair pianist. A flat screen TV suspended in a corner, but how and where to sit down to watch should I be so inclined? One large sofa with its brown covering torn in several places completed the cosy atmosphere or storage room.
One nurse admitted to me that everything was broken. I eyeballed the nurses to be overworked and exhausted and perhaps their pleas for workplace improvement falling on deaf ears.
It became obvious to me this ward was of low concern to Fraser Health. It contained mostly broken older patients clogging valuable costly hospital beds while waiting to be warehoused in nursing homes.

Upon discharge, I noted that the elevator required a human to unlock its ability to transport patients.

One blood test was supposed to be sufficient for two new tests, one of which had to be done at Royal Columbian Hospital and I must see my own community doctor the following day for the results I was instructed. Imagine my annoyance to find that I did require yet another blood test before discharge and then the next day the results were not available for my own doctor to interpret and my insurance was charged for a non visit. Please come back in a week when all results will be available, I was told, repeating the emergency department’s instruction.

As both a patient and retired physiotherapist who once tried to improve the lot of our elderly at this hospital, I was both very saddened and indignant at my care.
It is indeed true that our health system requires more money invested for functioning excellence, especially for our older patients who helped make British Columbia what it is today.
But I ask, does it cost more money to employ simple dignity and respect, keeping one’s word and showing compassion to elderly patients?

Janice Masur, Burnaby


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