A patient’s perspective on the hospital bed shortage

A patient's perspective on the hospital bed shortage I would like to share my perspective as a recent patient at the Whitehorse General Hospital. Having lived here for almost three decades, I consider myself to be a long time Yukoner. Fortunately, up unt

I would like to share my perspective as a recent patient at the Whitehorse General Hospital. Having lived here for almost three decades, I consider myself to be a long time Yukoner.

Fortunately, up until last Monday, June 6, I had never been admitted to the Whitehorse Hospital. Like many Yukoners, I have heard and read concerns expressed by patients and staff working at the Whitehorse General Hospital about bed shortages, overcrowding, stressful working conditions and the impact that this was having mainly on patient care.

Before my admission, I had no idea of the extent of the problem – I do now.

Firstly, I would like to say that all of the staff that I encountered did an outstanding job of administering care, in what I can only describe from a patient perspective as far from ideal working conditions.

My recovery following surgery occurred over a two-day period. I spent this time in a holding area for short stay day procedure / post operative care patients. None of the 55 hospital beds on the different wards were available. As I learned first hand, this holding area is now being used on a regular basis to accommodate admitted patients (post surgical and otherwise) when no other beds are available.

From my perspective, this area is not conducive in any way to extended post-surgical recovery. The holding area is where more and more individuals admitted to hospital end up on a daily basis following their surgery.

The day procedure / post surgical recovery area that is now being used as a option to accommodate patients due to the lack of available bed space is a very busy place. It was chaotic, loud, and at times hot and uncomfortable. Added construction noise going on directly outside gives the impression of mayhem.

As the building shakes, jackhammers pound and the noise levels rise, it becomes difficult to rest or even to hear someone speaking to you. Nurses will provide earplugs to patients upon request. Client confidentiality does not exist in this area. Conversations between patients, staff, and physicians are exchanged openly and are audible to everyone.

As the bed spaces fill up in the holding area with pre and post operative admitted patients of all ages, the working and recovery conditions change. The area becomes more crowded, intense, hurried, loud, and frantic. There can be as many as eight to ten patients (babies to seniors) wedged into the holding area recovering from different surgeries. Patients are wheeled in and out at various stages of recovery.

Lying in a hospital bed that I did not actual fit, I found myself wondering both days if a bed space would open up and become available to me. It did not happen.

I initially thought that the conditions in the holding area could be attributed to an overly busy two-day period. The conditions within the holding area that I experienced were apparently typical. I was advised that this area is often even busier. As a patient recovering from surgery, this was an unexpectedly unpleasant experience.

What is even more disappointing is finding that these conditions have been ongoing for some time now and may be worsening.

I believe it’s time to find a solution. Unfortunately without a committed effort on the part of our territorial government and the Yukon Hospital Corporation in developing and implementing a plan which would address the bed shortage at the Whitehorse Hospital, this situation will continue to impact the health and well-being of Yukoners in a very negative way.

Tim Brady

Whitehorse

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