‘Always noise’: B.C. senior spends 9 days in hospital hallway due to overcrowding

A Vancouver Island senior says no one else should have to endure what he went through recently at Victoria General Hospital.

Eric Roberts, 87, spent nine days in the hospital hallway after he was admitted on Feb. 24 for an infection.

There were no rooms available so Roberts was left in the hallway, where the lights were on and people were moving around 24 hours a day.

“After about three days, they moved me in the hallway because somebody needed to be closer to the washroom, Roberts told Global News.

“And then I ended up right next to the nurses’ station. And that was a busy, busy time.”

He ended up being in the hallway for nine days in total.

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“After eight days, they said, ‘We’ve got a room for you,’” Roberts said.

“And I got a room by the window, and friends started to visit, and the next morning (they said), ‘I’m sorry, but there’s somebody deserves this more than you do.’ And back in the hall. And the only thing they could say is, ‘Well, you’re closer to the exit,’ but there was always noise, and you don’t care who’s looking at you after a while, because, I mean, you just want out and there’s no TV there, so you’d better have yourself a tablet or something.”

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Eric Roberts spent nine days in the hallway of Victoria General Hospital. Here is a photo of him beside one of the paintings hanging in the hallway.

Submitted to Global News

Eric Roberts’ bed in the hallway at Victoria General Hospital.

Submitted to Global News

Roberts said the nurses were lovely to him and constantly apologizing but one day he had to move his food tray seven times to allow people to move equipment down the hallway.

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“And then along came the guy who gets rid of the garbage, and he had to park his cart right in front of my bed and, emptied 15 bags of garbage from the room onto his cart.”

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In a statement to Global News, Island Health said it cannot speak to specific patient cases but anyone who has concerns about their level of care should contact the Patient Care Quality Office.

“Hospitals all across our region – and across B.C. – are incredibly busy and capacity issues are an ongoing challenge,” the statement reads.

“We never turn patients away and our goal is always to deliver high-quality culturally-safe care in an environment of continuous improvement. When our sites are extremely busy, at times, some patients are being cared for in temporary places, including hallways. We know this is not ideal, and we apologize.

“These situations are temporary while patients await transition to a unit or room, and we ensure the delivery of appropriate care and appropriate staffing levels.”

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Roberts said he was confused that he would see other patients discharged and then others moved into rooms but he remained in the hallway.

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“I’m certainly not a retired senior, so it was kind of difficult just being stuck in the hallway,” he said. “I’m addicted to making pottery, and I’ve got three more years at it. I said, everybody, I’ll do it till I’m 90.”

When asked about Roberts’ situation, Premier David Eby said it is hard enough to be sick and have to require treatment, “but to have to stay in a hallway doesn’t meet the standards of any British Columbia in terms of the care that you should get in this province.”

“Our health-care system is under significant strain. The population growth in this province has been massive. And our wave of retiring health-care workers after the pandemic has really left those who are keeping our hospitals running, stressed and overworked.”

Eby said he is disappointed Roberts had to go through this experience.

Dan Levitt, the newly appointed B.C. seniors’ advocate, told Global News that health-care demands usually spike for adults at age 85.

“As we know, the current, baby boomers, they are 78 years of age in terms of where the population is going,” he said.

“The oldest baby boomers today are 78 years of age. So over the next 10 years, we’re going to see that population move in that cohort, move into the age category, where there’ll be a lot more demand on health-care services as that population progresses into their 80s and 90s.”

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