LETTER: Vernon hospital needs some intensive care

30 days in hospital sheds light on facility, staff condition

Our 91-year-old mother recently spent 30 days in Vernon Jubilee hospital. Being a very hands-on family we attended the hospital on a daily basis for the better part of each day. The following is what we observed during the duration of our moms care:

The conditions the staff is working under are unacceptable. There does not seem to be any real consistency with respect to the nursing staff. We would see the same nurse but sometimes after the second day there was someone new. Subsequently, the next team would start their shift with patients they had never met. The nurses have very little time to read the patient charts other than perhaps to review the previous night shift notes. Rarely did they know anything about mom’s previous days in hospital or the reason for her original admission. The nurses and aides do their very best to perform all the patient care, despite being understaffed. Nurses often relied on us to assist them which bought them some time to attend the needs of others. We also were able to provide information concerning our mom to assist the staff to understand her needs.

We spoke with many family and friends of other patients that were equally frustrated. We sadly saw too many examples where patients had no one to advocate for them. We are very aware that a hands-on approach with loved ones helps patients recover. That being said it should not be an expectation and leave one feeling that without the support of family, the overworked nurses would not have as much time for patients as they would like. No surprise that there is rampant burn out and difficulty finding and maintaining staff at VJH. There are job openings for hospitalists and nurses always posted, but who could blame anyone for not wanting to work under conditions such as they are.

The antiquated equipment both staff and patients are expected to tolerate is unacceptable. Our mother was placed in a wheelchair that the arms were so torn and worn that the brittle material hurt mom’s arms. We wrapped the arms of the wheelchair. The wheelchair arm was actually broken as well. The blinds in the rooms are difficult to open and close as they are also all broken. Chairs to provide bedside visits were the luck of the draw to find available. We saw beds that didn’t work. The list goes on and on.

In addition to the worry of having a loved one in the hospital you must pay $5 a day for parking. It was easier to pay for several days at once than to be constantly watching the clock. Several family members attending the hospital on a daily basis becomes very costly. I know the parking company is certainly cleaning up financially. Paying to visit a patient should not be something anyone should have to add to the stress of the situation or be a for profit business at any hospital.

So many times we were told how nice the rooms in the tower are with all new equipment. Why did our tax dollars go to making everything nice and new in the new tower and nothing done to equally update the older part of the hospital? Are the patient’s needs in the original part of the hospital not equally important of those that are admitted to the new part? Of course they are, so what’s the justification for the difference being, in any way, acceptable?

I encourage patients, family and friends with similar concerns to contact the Minister of Health, Adrian Dix 250-953-3547 and the Patient Care Quality office for Interior Health at 1-877-442-2001, your MLA and MP. You can also submit complaints online. I will be doing this and will be providing specific details. These details will not just be about the unpleasant matters but will also advocate for staff expected to work under these conditions.

The time has come for us to become squeaky wheels and express in very loud voices our discontent with the treatment of our loved ones and the way our tax dollars are being spent. Let’s get VJH to be a functional, well-staffed facility as opposed to the last place you would ever hope a loved one to be.

This letter is in no way criticism towards the overworked staff whom all provided mom quality care.

Margo Pepper

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