A good, but crowded, hospital

Campbell River hospital staff credited for operating well under crowded conditions

Good things are happening at the Campbell River Hospital, but current crowded conditions are challenging staff and pushing patients to hospitals down-Island.

The issue of over-crowding at the local hospital is nothing new and many fear it will only get worse when the new 95-bed hospital opens in 2017.

“Let’s get this right and not build a hospital where, two years later down the road, we wish we had done it right,” said North Island MLA Claire Trevena, during a press conference with three local doctors last November.

According to sources, more than 100 people were admitted to Campbell River Hospital over Wednesday and some, scheduled for operations here, had to be transferred to Nanaimo General Hospital.

And then there’s the current H1N1 flu virus which is packing the intensive care unit (ICU) with patients, many of them young.

“There’s big pressure,” said Dr. Brendan Carr, president and CEO of Island Health. “Most ICUs are filled with young, healthy people…who’ve been days, and days and days being that sick.”

Carr and the health authority’s board of directors just happened to be in Campbell River Wednesday, for a board meeting at the Maritime Heritage Centre. He credited hospital staff for operating so well under the crowded conditions and also touted the need for flu immunization.

“This flu season has been really dangerous,” said Carr. “We can do better with hand hygiene and to improve immunization. I feel a responsibility to say that out loud.”

In regard to hand hygiene, Campbell River Hospital is one of the best in the country.

The hospital recently received a 95 per cent compliance rate and that’s not easy, said Carr, who noted that one nurse’s interaction with a single patient requires four hand-washing procedures.

“I’m not sure I would be able to maintain that high level of compliance,” he admitted. “We know (hand washing) helps reduce serious infection that can be devastating to patients.”

Here are some other hospital highlights:

  • Ground-breaking for the new hospital is expected to happen this summer. It will be built next to the current hospital.
  • A request for proposals to build an new 40-bed care facility has been issued. It is expected to be open before the new hospital in 2017 and is expected to free up hospital beds.
  • More patients are using the mobile MRI unit which travels to various up-Island hospitals. In 2012, its first year, 265 cases were handled at Campbell River Hospital. Last year, that number jumped to 500.
  • The pace-make clinic had approximately 1,400 visits last year. “It’s a very busy clinic and they’re doing a lot of high-end work,” said Dr. Carr, who noted, in the past, these patients would have travelled to Nanaimo and Victoria.