ALBERTA

Suzanne Stewart Says Royal University Hospital Filthy, Unsafe

10/30/2013 06:44 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
SASKATOON - A retired nurse in Saskatchewan is raising concerns about a hospital that she says is filthy and unsafe.

Suzanne Stewart was admitted to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon for major surgery last year and she says there was excrement on her bathroom wall that was never cleaned.

She had another surgery this September and says there was no improvement. Vomit was on the floor by the bed for several days, she said.

Stewart, 60, says she worried about getting an infection.

"I never used a handrail, I couldn't because I knew if my bathroom wasn't clean and my floor wasn't clean in my room, nothing is clean," Stewart said in an interview Wednesday.

Stewart says she was a nurse for 36 years. She worked in hospitals and long-term care facilities in Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Prince Albert, Meadow Lake and Yorkton.

But she says what she saw in Saskatoon blew her mind.

"I've never seen such a dirty hospital," Stewart said.

"I can smell it when I walk in it. You can smell the air is not clean and I have smelled, more than once, you can smell the urine. And if you haven't got the basics for cleanliness in a facility, how do you get rid of the super bugs?"

Stewart says she doesn't blame the workers because there's a staff shortage.

Stewart outlined her concerns in letters to Premier Brad Wall and the health minister after her surgery in 2012 and again last month.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan says the province responded to her first letter and he wants to follow up further.

"In some of these specifics, whether it be issues around feces being visible for five days, I mean I want to look into that specifically," Duncan at the legislature.

"I think that's absolutely unacceptable. I hope that's certainly not the case and that it didn't actually take place."

However, Duncan also says the Saskatoon Health Region knows there are cleaning concerns at Royal University Hospital.

"The followup that we will be doing would relate to what the CEO shared publicly this summer, that they were working on a 90-day plan to address housekeeping issues, particularly at RUH," he said.

An email later sent to reporters by the government said Duncan spoke with Saskatoon Health Region vice-president Jackie Mann on Wednesday afternoon.

The government says Mann told them that the region has hired a new regional manager with a focus on housekeeping, that staff are attending to more high traffic areas more regularly than before and have placed check lists in public washrooms.

The email also said that while the region didn't hire more housekeeping staff, it switched part timers to full-time positions.

— By Jennifer Graham in Regina

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