Vernon Jubilee Hospital is currently swamped with patients as the respiratory virus season lingers.
Ken Wright emailed The Morning Star earlier this month saying that the hospital’s emergency room was “crazy busy.”
Karl Hardt, Interior Health interim director of communications south, said the hospital is currently a busier place than usual.
“In recent days, we have seen an increase in admissions to hospital putting additional pressure on medical staff … and hospital capacity in an already challenging environment,” Hardt said.
Hardt said the respiratory virus season is expected to continue “through the coming weeks.” He did not say whether the hospital is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases, RSV cases or flu cases, but those are the main illnesses that led the B.C. government to reactivate 20 hospital emergency operation centres (EOC) in the province.
On Friday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said they’ve been dealing with an unprecedented increase in demand in the health-care system.
The Vernon hospital is included in the list of hospitals opening an EOC, and Hardt said it will have “dedicated leadership and capacity to work with and support all health authorities with a primary focus of improving capacity challenges in hospitals.”
The EOC’s activation will provide supports to ensure people can go home as soon as they are ready to leave the hospital, Hardt said.
“It means getting people who need to be admitted into those beds and out of the emergency department,” he said. “Supporting patients in the right locations including back in the community also relieves pressure on our staff and physicians who have been dealing with ongoing challenges and increasing demands over the last three years.”
Asked what the wait times are currently like at the hospital’s emergency department, Hardt said wait times fluctuate day-to-day based on the number of people visiting the ER and the urgency of their needs.
“When a patient arrives at the ED their urgency is assessed, and patients with urgent needs are seen sooner than those with less urgent needs. If we have a major trauma or multiple patients with high needs, other patients may wait longer to see a physician,” Hardt said.
“We know waits can be stressful for patients and families, so our teams do everything possible to see people as quickly as possible.”
Hardt offers a reminder to residents that the urgent and primary care centre is available for those who don’t need emergency care. People can call 811 if they are unsure of their needs, and pharmacists can also help by renewing many prescriptions.