A Moose Jaw woman is voicing major concerns about staffing levels, cleanliness and the design of the brand new Dr. F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital.
Cheryl Pakula was joined by NDP Health Critic Danielle Chartier when she met members of the media in the parking lot of the Western Development Museum Tuesday morning with the Wigmore hospital in the background.
They both took aim at the Lean methodology used in building the Wigmore hospital, which is the first of its kind in Canada.
Pakula described a 13-day Wigmore hospital stay by a “loved one” in December, and said the experience left her questioning the Lean model.
Pakula says right from the start there was no hospital staff coming around to clean the hospital room.
“On day three we decided we should be doing some infection control ourselves and we brought disinfectant wipes from home,” Pakula said.
“On day eight we asked someone if they would sweep the floor because we had dirty laundy, used syringes (and) medical waste under the bed. Finally on day 10 someone came in and actually cleaned the room.”
Pakula also claims that hospital staff members were multi-tasking to the point of creating potential safety hazards.
“The housekeeping staff is actually handing out meals, so…their shift is spent helping the kitchen. I’m very concerned that they might come and clean the toilet in a loved one’s room, then go hand their dinner to them. That’s a concern.”
The size of the Wigmore’s emergency room (ER) was also cause for concern to Pakula, who says the area isn’t large enough to accommodate patients and the design results in a lack of patient privacy.
“When we first got there, my loved one came in by ambulance,” Pakula detailed. “Unfortunately, for all of the people who were at the administration (desk) in the emergency ward…I can tell you everything about their health concerns because they were less than 10 feet away. There’s no privacy there. When the chairs filled up in the emergency room, there were people sitting on the floor.”
The Ministry of Health confirms that the size of the ER waiting room is 17 square meters, or “the size of four ping pong tables” according to an NDP media release on the issue.
Pakula says she voiced concerns to the Five Hills Health Region but “was not very happy” with their response. Pakula says FHHR CEO Cheryl Craig told her that the region was “working on it”.
As for the NDP, Chartier says “Lean has made a huge mess. It’s not a patient-centred hospital, it’s a Lean-driven hospital, and that needs to change”.
Pakula says Health Minister Dustin Duncan spoke with her for about 30 minutes before Tuesday’s media conference, and told her to address the quality care coordinator at the Five Hills Health Region, and that her concerns would be addressed.
HEALTH REGION SAYS LEAN NOT THE PROBLEM
The Five Hills Health Region (FHHR) responded to the concerns about the hospital on Tuesday afternoon.
Cheryl Craig is the CEO for the health region, and says the Lean model is not the problem. She says the region is always working on solutions for ongoing issues at the Wigmore hospital.
Responding to Pakula’s concern, Craig acknowledged to the media that the issue of dirty syringes and medical waste not being cleaned up was unacceptable.
“There were staff absences over the Christmas period for a number of reasons,” she told reporters on Tuesday.
“Part of our new processes is having a way that – our patients, our families, our staff – will know that that room has been cleaned, and if it hasn’t, then there is a follow-up step that they can take.”
Craig explained that the ER is small by design, but that the hospital is working on ways to ensure patient privacy in the area.
“Some of those (ideas), they’ve tried already, so it’s bringing the patient around to a different place so they’re not right adjacent to where the waiting room is,” Craig said. “We’re looking at other ways that we can create what I would call some white noise, so that in fact, the people in the waiting room would not have the opportunity to overhear the conversation.”
In response to Pakula’s concern over food being handled by the housekeeping staff, Craig explained the hospital’s protocol, which she says was established by staff and administration. She said food carts are taken up to the hospital wards
“The patients are asked, in the moment, from a selection that’s there, what it is they would like to have for their meal, that then is served by a dietary staff – put onto the plate,” she said. “The housekeeping staff take the tray and take it into the patient’s room.”
Craig said none of these issues can be attributed to Lean.