Christine Predy

Surrey Memorial Hospital back to normal surgery

All ORs running again but other hospitals feeling ER pressure

All nine operating rooms at Surrey Memorial Hospital are now up and running again after all but one was shut down in the wake of Monday’s flood.

Fraser Health officials say there should be no more surgery postponements as a result of the hospital disruption that has added pressure on other hospitals in the region.

They still expect it will take up to two weeks to reopen the closed ER, where crews continue restoration work.

Ambulances are taking emergency patients that would normally go to Surrey to Langley Memorial, Royal Columbian and Burnaby hospitals instead.

Royal Columbian has seen a 27 per cent increase in emergency volume as a result, Fraser Health spokesman Roy Thorpe-Dorward said.

“Although busy they are managing with the increased load,” he said.

Other hospitals are also feeling heavier traffic because of the closed ER at Surrey Memorial.

Peace Arch Hospital is running 36 per cent above its usual ER volume as more emergency cases arrive there instead.

Burnaby is running at 10 per cent above normal and Langley Memorial is 16 per cent higher than usual.

A total of 108 surgeries slated for Monday and Tuesday were rescheduled following the water main break that sent water gushing through SMH’s ER.

How quickly the delayed surgeries are performed will depend on the procedure, its urgency and how many new emergency surgeries must be done, Thorpe-Dorward said.

Patients heading to SMH are being redirected to a temporary ER and triage area at the nearby Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgical Centre.

It can handle 180 patients a day and so far saw only 75 patients in the first two days.

There’s no damage cost estimate yet but it will be “significant.”

Surrey Memorial is fully insured but it’s expected damage will be covered by the insurance of the contractor whose machine burst the water main.

It’s not yet known how badly key diagnostic imaging equipment is damaged.

Much equipment – such as ultrasound machines – are wall-mounted and weren’t affected by the flood.

“Yesterday it looked like a disaster zone in here,” said Christine Predy, a manager at SMH who witnessed the knee-high flood on Monday.

ER staff moved patients who were near the wall after the contractor warned that there was water building behind it.

Staff soon saw the water building behind the glass wall and had another three minutes to get patients out before it burst and sent water gushing through the ER.

“The water ran through for about 20 minutes – there was so much water built up behind that wall it took that long to come through,” Predy said. “A river of current came through the department.”

Workers have cut away the bottom foot or so of drywall at the bottom of all the ER walls and officials say the cleanup work is going well.

Water leaks in hospitals – often due to plumbing mishaps – are not unusual, according to SMH facilities manager Mitch Weimer.

He said the incident requires careful cleanup, but does not pose structural problems.

SMH is the busiest ER in western Canada, handling 100,000 patients a year.

Thorpe-Dorward said it would have been “much more challenging” to respond to the flood had the Jim Pattison centre not opened nearby two years ago, taking over most diagnostic scans and day surgery.


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