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Stay out of ERs: minister

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Health Minister Terry Lake. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

Health Minister Terry Lake. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

Stop going to the emergency room for minor problems.

Health Minister Terry Lake strongly pushed that message Wednesday as he announced a two-year plan that would put an additional $60 million into Fraser Health to deal with problems in its acute-care facilities.

“Some of the hospitals in the Fraser Health ... the outcomes are not what we would want to see. The average length of stay is longer, which is not good for patients, and certainly is more costly,” Lake said.

“There’s this overreliance on the acute-care setting ... we know in the emergency departments, for instance, we’re seeing a lot of people who could be looked after in an alternate setting.”

The Fraser Health review comes after a period of criticism from mostly nurses and patients who tell of long working hours and overcrowded conditions — sometimes to the point where patients are in hallways.

The data showed emergency department use is increasing at several times the rate of population growth. Meanwhile, 35% of hospital admissions exceeded the expected length of stay, which ties up beds.

Lake pointed to how Fraser Health has proportionately fewer residential care beds than other jurisdicitons as another problem.

“There’s a general realization we need to provide more care in the community to keep people out of hospital as much as neccesary,” he said.

As part of the discussions, Lake said he would also look at giving the Burnaby health area over to Vancouver Coastal Health, since there’s generally a “significant flow” of patients from Burnaby to VCH for services.


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