Monday, June 9, 2014

The following letter was sent to the Fraser Regional Health Board ( after a 3 week stay in the Royal Columbian Hospital for bloodclot issues. It was copied to a number of government agencies/representatives and newspapers. The only response it elicited was a very weak letter from Dr. Nigel Murray of the Board that did not address any of the issues. I will post it next on the blog. I did later get a very interesting response from Pam Fayerman ( the medical correspondent for the Vancouver Sun.

January 31, 2014
Fraser Regional Health Board

RE:     Multi-Purpose Interventional Unit and 3D Imaging Royal Columbia Hospital

Dear Mr. Mitchel, Dr. Murray and Board Members:

I spoke briefly at your meeting in Delta on January 29th and would like to expound on the comments that I made at the meeting. Partly because my calculations were substantially wrong but mostly because this seems to come down to a serious mismanagement of health care funds.

I was in the vascular ward of the Royal Columbian Hospital for 3 weeks in December with blood clot issues. It was at that time that I became aware of the Interventional Unit and its capabilities as well as the present financial restrictions on the system.

It was a surprise to me to hear that you are considering a 12 million dollar expansion of the unit when, at this time, the financial constraints don’t allow for 24/7 staffing of the unit. As confirmed by Dr. Murray at the meeting, the RC Hospital is the Regional Trauma center. Surely a hospital with this designation cannot allow this restriction of staffing for a unit so integral to emergency care?

In the five rooms of the ward I was in there were 20 patients that were, like myself, waiting for availability of the unit to deal with their health issues. Most of these people were waiting for a period of about 10 days during my 3 week stay.

·         20X10X14 days (14-3 week periods/ year) means 2800 hospital days during which people are waiting for surgery.

·         At approximately $2000 dollars per day this totals $5,600,000 in direct costs to the hospital. Money lost due to the Unit not being available because of a staffing shortage.

I understand that staffing and bed costs are two different line items and are covered by different parts of the budget. However, this does not justify this inefficiency or ineffective use of facilities. In any other business this would be considered a total mismanagement of funds and resources.

One of the concerns expressed by the board in the meeting was overtime. It is logical that when staffing is set at a minimum, overtime will be required. Overtime puts a stress on your staff and is an additional cost over and above the $5.6 million mentioned. Surely the cost-benefit analysis mentioned by Dr. Murray at your meeting considers the overtime cost aspects of your financial planning and outlay?

I am thankful that overtime was allowed for my first intervention on a Saturday or I would have had to wait at least two more days. You can imagine my surprise when I saw that I was the only patient planned for that day in your  amazing facility.

Please do not mistake these comments for displeasure of my treatment. I was well cared for and the staff was pleasant and thorough. What was obvious is that everyone, especially the doctors, was stressed with their role in mitigating the wait period. The time consumed by this gave the doctors very little time to deal with patient questions regarding their actual treatment. This would be the only complaint that I would have about my actual treatment.

Sadly this is not where the issues stop. You can well imagine what this is doing to our labour force and how this is affecting the public at large. Being taken away from your family for twice the time necessary is a hardship. And really, no-one should be asked to spend any extra time in a ward where limbs are being lost.

What is even more difficult to justify is the fact that this small section of one hospital is costing British Columbia 2800 days of its workforce. 2800 lost work days! It would be interesting to see any statistic which speaks to the overall cost to the labour force from mismanagement or poorly allocated health care funds. If that were factored into the GDP we would have to admit that our health care funding is seriously hampering this country’s economy and well being. Not to speak of the public perception/reality of our health-care quality and costs.

Thank you for your time.

Peter van der Velden


Cc Vicky Huntington, BC minister for health, minister health canada, BC ministry of labour, minister of labour Canada, Vancouver Sun, Delta Optimist,

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