News Local

East Van hospital’s ER gear outdated

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Mount Saint Joseph Hospital only has about half of its emergency beds equipped with vital sign monitors, and its current ultrasound machine is simply unusable in the operating room because it's too big.
Submitted

Mount Saint Joseph Hospital only has about half of its emergency beds equipped with vital sign monitors, and its current ultrasound machine is simply unusable in the operating room because it's too big. Submitted

Insufficient equipment at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital has prompted a hospital foundation to try to raise $800,000 so patients in the emergency room can have proper vital sign monitors and diagnostic equipment that doesn’t interfere with resuscitation efforts.

Doreen Lam, manager of the Asian Giving Program at Tapestry Foundation, said on Tuesday that emergency department visits at Mount Saint Joseph have risen 27% since 2010.

“And every year, we see more patients, and sicker patients,” she said.

“Last year, we raised about $728,000 for the new CT scanner for the radiology department ... the ministry sets the budget for each and every hospital for the Lower Mainland.

“For us, we’re just filling in the gap for those equipment that the government does not have the funding for ... that’s the new reality.”

Dr. Michael Sze, emergency physician at the hospital, said only about half the emergency beds at the hospital have vital sign monitors — which are crucial for monitoring patients at risk of heart attack.

“We don’t get five heart attacks all at once all the time, but it can happen ... if we are not prepared when it happens then how can we face our patients?” he said, pointing to an increasing number of patients experiencing chest pain.

Another machine the hospital desperately needs is a portable ultrasound used as a diagnostic tool in the emergency department that can be used to detect internal bleeding, serious stomach pains and other conditions.

The hospital has one, but it’s a giant, older machine that does not fit around operating tables.

“We have to put priority in putting in airway and all those things. The machine is so big we can’t put it in — remember, we have people all around too,” Sze said.

“(An ultrasound) tells us if the person has to be resuscitated in the operating room or if we can help them with transfusion — it’s a matter of life and death.”

Donation queries can go to dlam@providencehealth.bc.ca — the foundation is hopes to raise the amount through tickets for its annual gala dinner called the Feast of Fortune, but smaller amounts are always welcome.