A woman with pneumonia and a serious heart ailment is begging for a standard in-patient bed after being stuck in Abbotsford Regional Hospital’s emergency room for a week.
“I don’t want to die,” said Tara. (The News isn’t using her last name for privacy reasons.)
Tara, 49, was brought to hospital several days ago by a friend who found her passed out in one of the homes he rents. She had been in ARH’s intensive care unit earlier in the year for treatment of serious heart issues. She was sent home, though, after doctors told her that she needed to be in better health before a heart operation was possible.
Brought to hospital last week, Tara spent three days in a bed directly in front of the emergency room doors to the outside. Every five minutes, she said the doors would open and deliver a cold blast of air.
“It’s horrible. It’s where all the ambulances come in; people screaming and bleeding on you,” she said.
After a friend posted on Facebook about her plight, Tara’s bed was moved, but only to another busy ER hallway.
“My cold and my pneumonia has gotten 100 per cent worse,” she said. “I need to get out of the hallway so I can get some proper rest.”
She says she feels sicker, but that her doctor has brushed off her concerns and not answered her questions.
When The News has previously reported on those stuck in hospital hallways for long periods, officials have frequently said that only medically stable patients are left in such condition.
But Steve Simpson, the friend who brought Tara to hospital, said he has been told Tara’s condition is dire, and he is hoping to secure a transfer for her to a hospital in Vancouver.
“She’s got all sorts of issues,” he said. “She’s a good person who really needs some medical help.”
Simpson believes Tara’s previous use of drugs several years ago has led health workers to treat his friend differently. Tara would occasionally leave the ER, and Simpson said nurses seemed to think those absences were drug-related.
But Tara said that’s not the case and that she left the ER just to get some peace and quiet:
“My friend would come and I would go sleep in his car for an hour or two in the parking lot, just so I can get some rest,” she said. “It’s really messed up. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with this place.”
Construction recently began on an expanded emergency department for ARH. Meanwhile, new figures show the hospital has an above-average mortality rate after dozens more patients died last year than would be expected by statistical models.
Long stays in Abbotsford’s ER room are not infrequent. One in 10 patients at ARH spend more than three days in its emergency department. Those figures are significantly higher than the Canadian, provincial and Fraser Health average. ARH and nearby Chilliwack General Hospital are the two-most crowded large hospitals in B.C., with both operating at more than 115 per cent capacity last year.
In a statement, a Fraser Health spokesperson wrote: “We are aware of this situation and have been working directly with the patient to address her concerns. We recognize that being in a hospital bed in a non-private area is not ideal and it is difficult for patients and their families.”
The spokesperson added that emergency departments do not turn people away and pointed to work being done to expand the ER. Construction is expected to be complete in 2021.
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