Surrey Memorial Hospital Women's Health Workers Pen Open Letter to the Public

Surrey Memorial Hospital Women’s Health Workers Pen Open Letter to the Public

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Workers from Surrey Memorial Hospital’s (SMH) women’s health department have written an open letter to the community outlining ongoing problems with their division.

“We, the Women’s Health providers at Surrey Memorial Hospital, wish to articulate our deep concern regarding the crisis caused by chronic and pervasive under-resourcing which has led to unsafe conditions and adverse outcomes in our hospital,” reads an introductory excerpt from the letter.

This comes less than two weeks after SMH emergency room doctors issued an open letter of their own, detailing a “crisis” at the facility involving what they call “unsafe conditions” in the workplace. Women’s Health providers say this letter comes “both in support and response” to the initial letter.

Staff members from Women’s Health weren’t afraid to place blame either, pointing to various tiers of the local healthcare system’s administration.

Surrey Memorial Hospital Women's Health Workers Pen Open Letter to the Public

“We believe it is our obligation to be open and transparent with our patients, community stakeholders, and other interested parties about the serious difficulties we are currently experiencing, many of which are the result of inaction on the part of Fraser Health’s executive administration, board of directors, and Ministry of Health.”

Under duress, the hospital’s Women’s Health division divided the letter into three major sections, outlining problems with the Family Birthing Unit, restricted access to operating rooms, and a crisis with the amount of resources available.

Women’s Health staff members claim that due to a lack of resources and space, the Family Birthing Unit is currently experiencing a shortage of supervised beds.

They explain that despite serving a larger population than Vancouver, SHM’s birthing unit only has six antepartum beds, 32 laboring beds, and sixteen postpartum beds. Workers in the field of women’s health claim that this is a problem because the BC Women’s Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital has a total of nearly twice as many antepartum beds (13), laboring beds (47), and postpartum beds (35), compared to SHM.

The Family Birthing Unit has a number of problems, including a lack of privacy for mothers during and after childbirth, a lack of some resources, and an old facility that can’t handle the expanding local population.

Regarding issues faced by SMH gynecologists, Women’s Health workers say they have “extremely limited access to the operating room.”

They say that while SMH has ten operating rooms in total, only eight or nine are typically available due to staffing issues or renovations. They claim that this results in gynecology-related surgery wait times that are 77% longer than a provincial healthcare benchmark set for wait times.

Surrey Memorial Hospital Women's Health Workers Pen Open Letter to the Public

“This means that women in Surrey are suffering from significant pelvic disease, at times requiring multiple blood transfusions while awaiting surgery, requiring extended leave from work and with no choice but to use costly medications, not without side effects, while they wait,” the letter reads.

Finally, they point to a “lack of adequate action” taken by industry leadership over the last five years, resulting in a major shortage of available resources.

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