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Collective efforts to better support patients, health-care workers in Surrey

June 7, 2023 at 4:00 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

The Province and Fraser Health are taking action to improve access to health care for people in Surrey by providing immediate assistance with further help available in the coming months and planning underway to expand the hospital.

From June 1-6, 2023, Adrian Dix, Minister of Health; Stephen Brown, deputy minister of health; Jim Sinclair, board chair of Fraser Health; and Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, met with staff from various departments at SMH to listen to concerns and work on solutions.

“I’m grateful for the many health-care workers at Surrey Memorial Hospital who have raised their concerns to me, including the hard-working people who have taken time out of their day over the past week to speak with me,” said Dix. “Along with Fraser Health, we are all working together on real, meaningful solutions to improve hospital flow and ensure health-care workers are fully supported in providing their patients with the best possible care. This includes a plan to expand the hospital to better meet the need of this growing community. We’re going to keep working with health-care providers in Surrey and across the province to strengthen the care people need.”

B.C.’s population is growing and changing, especially in Surrey. As more people move to Surrey, health services need to keep up with the significantly growing demand. To bolster SMH’s function as a tertiary hospital, the Province and Fraser Health are outlining specific actions, including planning work to expand the existing Surrey Memorial Hospital by improving and increasing capacity for more inpatient and outpatient care, surgeries and clinical programs, in addition to the new Surrey hospital being built in Cloverdale.

More details about this expansion at SMH will be identified through the fall 2023 annual capital planning process, which will build upon a refreshed clinical service plan for the hospital and region.

While this work is being done, the Province and Fraser Health will implement other solutions to benefit health-care workers and patients in the short and medium term.

Immediate actions include:

  • working with hospitalists to stabilize their physician workforce and sufficient service levels to ensure continued access to inpatient medicine services, while also working to build out their capacity and establish a new contract;
  • increasing funding available for additional physician coverage, nursing and allied-health services, including opening a care and triage unit in the emergency department;
  • utilizing nearby community health-care services to relieve patient demand at the emergency department, including additional resources to expand hours of urgent and primary-care centres;
  • introducing an interdisciplinary team for child and youth mental health for emergency care and staffing for the pediatric emergency department;
  • increasing the number of internal medicine positions to support admitted patients and build out an internal medicine clinical teaching unit to support recruitment;
  • increasing capacity in outpatient and community services to discharge patients safely 24 hours, seven days a week;
  • focusing on psychological and physical health and safety of staff by augmenting available counselling services on site and continuing to hire additional relational security officers;
  • funding for additional workforce, such as clinical associates, associate physicians and nurse practitioners; and
  • targeted international recruitment of medical and health-care staff.

The Ministry of Health and Fraser Health are also actively engaging with medical staff and staff from the Family Birthing Unit at SMH to ensure that it continues to serve as the highest tier of services for maternity and women’s health care at the hospital. This will involve adding more support for the care teams, expanding access to operating rooms and increasing the infrastructure for maternity, pediatrics and women’s health in the longer term.

In the medium term, the Ministry of Health will work closely with Fraser Health, including medical staff, nurses and allied health professionals, to refresh clinical service planning. The plan will determine how and where services should be delivered in Surrey and the broader region. The plan for SMH will include:

  • expanding renal services within 18 months;
  • building a second interventional radiology suite at Surrey Memorial Hospital, which will enable stroke and cardiac specialty expansion;
  • adding two cardiac catheterization labs at Surrey Memorial Hospital;
  • adding new MRI and CT and replacing existing CT with cardiac capabilities to increase access to diagnostic services;
  • completing renovations of existing operating rooms to expand capacity;
  • expanding critical health-care services such as outpatient, home health and home support services, clinical social work, physiotherapy, rehabilitation and respiratory therapy;
  • expanding the Urgent Care Response Centre and Gateway Mental Health services to 12 hours, seven days a week;
  • renovation to the pediatric emergency waiting areas;
  • increased access to transitional beds for vulnerable patient populations by purchasing new care spaces;
  • building out innovative and digital services such as Hospital at Home, Digital Front Door and virtual specialty consultation services;
  • significantly increasing resident physician allocation at Fraser Health and including Surrey Memorial Hospital as their home residency sites; and
  • enhancing Fraser Health’s successful in-house learning institute to close critical gaps in allied staff and nursing.

The Province and Fraser Health will continue working with SMH and staff to find solutions that will support providing quality care to patients in Surrey.

Four backgrounders follow.

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