Fraser Health will close the Fraser Canyon Hospital’s emergency room (ER) starting Oct. 30 tentatively, for installation of a new machine, although residents will continue to have ER services on-site.
On Monday, Fraser Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) brought a Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) to the hospital, where ER visits will take place. For people visiting the ER, this means some change in procedures, although Fraser Canyon Hospital director Catherine Wiebe stated that patients will see minimal changes.
Patients seeking ER services will register and wait at the same places. When the time comes for them to see the nurse and doctor, staff will bring the patient to the unit.
Actively psychotic patients will generally be transferred to Chilliwack’s hospital after they receive stabilization and assessment, but because of the layout of the MMU, those patients will be transferred to Chilliwack promptly. The Fraser Canyon Hospital also rarely sees maternity patients in the ER and Wiebe further stated that they should go to Chilliwack for ER services.
Wiebe said the hospital will transfer actively-psychotic patients and maternity patients to Chilliwack at a much quicker rate because of space and layout challenges. Wiebe also said Chilliwack’s hospital has obstetricians, pediatricians and can do Caesarian sections.
“I’ve been here nine-and-a-half years, I don’t think we’ve delivered nine babies in that time,” said Wiebe.
Finally, Wiebe also said that patients should use the ER “wisely” and consider alternatives such as walk-in clinics or appointments with doctors.
PHSA clinical operations director Peter Hennecke said they will help orientate Fraser Health staff that will work in the unit. Hennecke said the size of the unit stands at 1,100 square feet and can accommodate six to eight patients at the same time.
“We’ve had ICU beds in there. We’ve actually had babies born in the unit — not planned — but we have had one of our renovations in Pemberton, we’ve had six babies born in the unit in a span of two-and-a-half months, which is unusual for the site,” said Hennecke, which surprised Wiebe.
Fraser Health are closing the ER because they will install an OmniCell Automated Dispensing Cabinet. The estimated length of that machine is about three snack vending machines, and it has drawers where medicine is dispensed into. Due to the layout of the ER, the hospital needed renovations to accommodate the machine.
This machine will help doctors and nurses administer the right medication for in-hospital use, and it also keeps track of medication quantities. Wiebe said this will automate stock monitoring and reduce medication dispensing errors.
Wiebe anticipates the renovations will take five to six weeks, and hopes that it can finish by November or early December.
“Our hope is, it’s what we told the contractor, we would like it done by the end of November,” said Wiebe.
They have scheduled a public open house on Oct. 27 between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mobile Medical Unit.
Fraser Health is also installing another machine in the medical unit, which needs renovations too, although that one will have minimal impact on operations.