Opinion Column

Woman appalled to be left overnight in VGH gynecology ward hallway

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Vancouver General Hospital - Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre. (Google Maps)

Vancouver General Hospital - Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre. (Google Maps)

“B.C. Liberals are dedicated to establishing a new era of health care in B.C. ... We are going to put people’s needs at the centre of health care again.”

- B.C. Liberal Party platform, 2001

A young woman is appalled she was left overnight in a Vancouver General Hospital’s gynecology ward hallway, internally bleeding and in pain while on a bed with a makeshift screen made of sheets tied to intravenous stands her only privacy.

It’s called “hallway medicine” – condemned by doctors, nurses, hospital staff and the opposition but increasingly common under the B.C. Liberal government that promised 16 years ago that: “We are going to be sure that people have the care they need, when they need it, where they live.”

No. Not even close.

“I’m appalled that anyone would be left in the hallway of a hospital but it’s especially appalling that someone in my condition was put in this situation,” says the woman, who asked not to be identified.

“The doctors and nurses couldn’t even examine me because I’m in the hallway without any privacy – it was ridiculous,” the woman told me Saturday. “I felt unsafe and vulnerable.”

“And I couldn’t sleep – with the noise, it made me feel even worse,” she said, adding that she didn’t have a call bell for help – and was told by apologetic nurses to bang on the wall for assistance.

Despite that, she says her medical treatment was appropriate, just not the location.

Unfortunately, hallway medicine is very common in B.C. hospitals, as I found out last October when asked to leave the VGH emergency room and sit in the lobby in a hospital gown before being admitted to the cardiac ward.

But it’s not just emergency rooms or just VGH, Canada’s second largest hospital.

Last month, another woman suffering from internal bleeding spent three days in the Surrey Memorial Hospital hallway, but doesn’t blame medical staff.

“It has nothing to do with them and everything to do with the fact that the system is broken," Karen Reid-Sidhu told Surrey Now. "It needs to be evaluated and fixed. It’s only going to get worse.”

These and other cases show that B.C. Liberals who promised better health care 16 years ago are currently leaving appalled patients in hallways – and apparently could not care less.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at billtieleman.blogspot.com or email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman