NEWS

Burnaby hospital problems accepted by health minister

11/30/2012 03:24 EST | Updated 01/30/2013 05:12 EST
B.C.'s Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid says her government isn't throwing anyone under the bus for problems at Burnaby General Hospital detailed in a controversial new report.

MacDiarmid was speaking out about NDP claims that a report highlighting problems at the hospital was intentionally slanted to blame the Fraser Health Authority for problems at the facility.

A report says things are so bad at Burnaby hospital the annual Christmas tree can't even be plugged in because it could overload the electrical systems.

It also says the hospital doesn't have enough beds, staff, and washrooms and the aging buildings allow for the easy spread of infection such as C. difficile, which has plagued the facility.

The minister says she takes full responsibility for Burnaby Hospital and the government knows the hospital needs to be redeveloped.

"The government is ultimately responsible. I, as the minister of health, am ultimately responsible, and I completely accept that."

But she says the government only has a certain amount of money to spend and there are already about a dozen new hospital projects across the province.

"We've got a huge capital project already underway at Surrey Memorial. Royal Columbian is next. St Paul's needs to be redone," said MacDiarmid.

"And then looking around the province we have either started or finished hospitals in Burns Lake, in Fort St. John, Comox, Campbell River."

MacDiarmid says the government is committed to redeveloping Burnaby General, but there is no date set for the work to be done.

But the govenrment will consider improvements in the short term, she said.

"Changes to the emergency department or the operating room that streamline flow, that make people move through better — that's possible, and that's something I think in the next short while that we'll be looking at really seriously."

Infection rate led to report

The public consultation committee that wrote the report was formed last spring after eight senior doctors issued a warning of the high number of C. difficile bacterial infections at the hospital.

The report, which was leaked to CBC News yesterday, said the older buildings at Burnaby Hospital should be torn down and replaced and the heavily used facility should get an increase in funding to bring it up to the same level provided to other hospitals in the Fraser Health Authority.

The committee also found a lack of funding equity for Burnaby Hospital, compared to other hospitals in the Fraser Health Authority.

But the NDP opposition has claimed a series of leaked emails show the report was high-jacked by Liberal Party insiders who dominated the committee and manipulated the outcome to focus blame away from the government and onto the Fraser Health Authority which runs the hospital.

“It's quite unbelievable that the Liberal government took such a serious issue of concern to Burnaby residents and attempted to turn it into a so-called 'winning issue' for them,” said NDP MLA Kathy Corrigan in a statement issued on Friday morning.

“By crassly putting politics ahead of the needs of the community, the Liberals have gone a long way to discredit themselves and the entire committee process. We knew once we saw those emails that this report would be self-serving and attempt to divert blame away from the government.”

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