Falkland stampedes for hospital

Falkland residents are preparing to send a strong message over conditions at their hospital.

Falkland residents are preparing to send a strong message over conditions at their hospital.

A public rally will be held at the stampede grounds today at 6 p.m. to protest frequent overcrowding and a shortage of acute care beds at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

“It’s our hospital,” said Kelli Rose, one of the event organizers.

“While the name on the hospital is Vernon, it’s not just for Vernon people.”

VJH is funded for 148 acute care beds but on average, there are 165 patients daily.

Rose says it’s unacceptable that patients are being placed in hallways because of a lack of beds and that surgeries are being cancelled.

She is also concerned that overcrowding may lead to the spread of infections among patients.

“If you’re not providing proper infrastructure, there’s a chain reaction.”

To date, 350 Falkland residents have signed petitions demanding that two-shelled in floors at VJH be completed for acute care beds and that appropriate staff levels be initiated.

“It’s growing day by day,” said Rose of the signatures.

“Community organizations have been phoning their members and letting them know about the issue. People are aware of it.”

Among the groups participating in the effort are the Falkland Community Association, the Falkland First Responders, Falkland Highway Rescue, the fire department, the Sunday Morners, the seniors association and the Falkland Historical Society.

Recently, Shuswap MLA George Abbott, who represents Falkland, stated he would not join lobbying efforts for more beds at VJH.

“I am not in a position to be definitive on whether they (two shelled-in floors) should or should not be completed,” he told The Morning Star.

Abbott said the new patient care tower should create efficiencies for patient flow and that should be considered before a decision on new beds.

According to Rose, Abbott’s comments have not been popular.

“People in Falkland aren’t being political but we are looking to our representatives. It’s very disheartening,” she said.

“His comments have not been well received and if anything, they have led people to step up to the plate to express their concerns.”

Today’s rally has the support of VJH physicians and the B.C. Nurses Union.

“It’s just fabulous to see folks from this community sending a clear message to their MLA that VJH overcrowding is unacceptable and that the two shelled-in floors need to be completed as soon as possible,” said Dr. Michael Concannon, an emergency room physician.