Alicia Allen said her mother had knee revision surgery on Aug. 8 and was put into a standard room for her first night of recovery.
However, the next night she was moved to a sunroom.
“This is not a standard hospital room, there’s no bathroom, there’s no proper light, there’s no sink and most importantly, there’s no nurse call button,” Allen told Global News. “So if you need a nurse, you can’t easily press the button to get the nurse to come, you have to yell.”
Allen said her mother cannot close the door to the room as the nurses would not be able to hear her calling.
She also said there are not enough plugs for machines, there is no option for dim nighttime lighting, and there is no indication the space is being used as a room so people keep walking in unannounced.
Allen said in addition to the knee surgery, her mother has lymphoma and emphysema. She is very concerned about the level of care her mother is receiving.
“She’s not a younger person, she’s a senior, she’s vulnerable and then, they put her in this room that frankly, I find dehumanizing.”
She said the room doesn’t even have a number on the door.
The biggest concern for Allen is the lack of a call button.
She said the nurses tried to find a metal bell for her mother but they couldn’t so they just told her to yell for them. However, she said her mother was calling for an hour and no one came.
“I think they’re not meeting a minimum duty of care for patients if they don’t have a call bell,” Allen added. “And for people who say ‘at least your mother has a room, at least she’s not in a hallway,’ where are our standards? Are those our standards now of the Canadian health-care system? As long as we’re not shoved in a hallway that it’s OK?”
Allen said the staff at the hospital has been amazing and she’s so grateful they are taking care of her mother but when she requested a new room she said the head nurse told her 10 people will be sleeping in recovery that night due to a lack of beds in rooms.
Global News reported on this issue before, in March when John Preston was put into the same sunroom after being discharged from the emergency department.
At that time, Island Health told Global News when the hospitals are busy, some patients are cared for in temporary places, including sunrooms.
“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,” they stated.
In response to a request from Global News Thursday, the health authority issued a similar statement, saying “on occasion patients are cared for in temporary spaces when patients are stable, deemed medically fit for the space, and nearly ready for discharge. This could include sunrooms.
In these situations, we ensure the delivery of appropriate care and ensure the patient is informed and aware of the care plan. We know these situations may not be ideal and apologize if this distresses a patient or their loved ones.”
Allen’s mother spent the remaining two nights in the sunroom before being discharged on Aug. 11.
On Thursday, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said he was not familiar with Allen’s mother’s case, but he said hospitals are constantly making adjustments for care and space.
He said it is not just a problem at Royal Jubilee Hospital as all facilities are dealing with some very challenging conditions and staffing.
“The important thing is to have excellent access to care,” Dix said.
Allen said she has filed a formal complaint with the Vancouver Island Health Authority but has not heard anything back.
She said she wants to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“What if it’s someone else that’s even more vulnerable than my mom?”