Patient beds fill the hallways at Royal Inland Hospital and there is no space in the emergency room to treat patients in a timely fashion, an assessment by ER doctors has revealed.
In fact, RIH has run at more than 100-per-cent capacity since 2009 and the situation is getting worse, not better, said Dr. Anders Ganstal, who has worked in the ER for eight years.
"Our ER is congested and we have no place to see new patients," said Ganstal.
"One of the hardest thing for us, as ER docs, to do is walk past the hallway and have many pairs of eyes staring at us. We want to see all of those patients."
Ganstal, along with ER colleague Dr. Alan Vukusic, posted YouTube testimonials to the website bcemergencycare.com where, along with physicians from across B.C., they hope to convince the province that more resources are needed.
The website also contains report cards for more than two-dozen hospitals. Royal Inland receives a failing grade because of overcrowding.
He said the province must invest $10 million or provide 30 physicians provincewide in order for the system to function properly.
"This site is to say to the Ministry (of Health) that we are a safety net. We see the people as they come through the door. We want to see people in a timely fashion," said Ganstal.
Vukusic's video describes a night in the ER last week. He reveals that 13 of 16 assessment beds were filled with admitted patients who should have been in an admitted ward.
That meant ER nurses and staff cared for patients who had already been admitted on top of any who required emergency care, he says in the video.
People waited four to 10 hours to see a doctor. The average wait time was five hours, the video states. By the end of the shift, two thirds of them were admitted to hospital.
"These are sick people," says Vukusic. "We don't have the staff to properly take care of people."
Ganstal said the average wait time was unchanged for the next two nights.
RIH recently received funding for 2.45 extra physicians, which changed the hospital's status from critically understaffed to adequately staff. Ganstal said the contract ends March 31 and its renewal hinges on bargaining between physicians and the province.
The physicians have been without a contract since April 2012.
Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake said the physicians make their case, but the reality is there's a lot of pressure on the system due to a doctor shortage.
The province has tried to ease pressures on health care by investing more than $7 billion in hospital infrastructure since 2001, said Lake. RIH has received $80 million in improvements, including $27 million for the ER and imaging facility.
He said the physicians are in the middle of contract talks, so it's no surprise that they are making their needs known.
Ganstal encouraged patients to visit bcemergencycare.com and share their ER stories.