BC Children's Hospital opens satellite clinic to ease pressure on emergency department

BC Children's Hospital is trying to get a handle on a troubling surge of respiratory illnesses. As Aaron McArthur reports – the hospital has opened an overflow unit to take the pressure off its overwhelmed emergency room.

The BC Children’s Hospital opened an emergency satellite clinic on Tuesday to alleviate some of the pressure on its packed emergency department.

As long as there are enough staff, the overflow clinic will operate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, closing only on Friday as it moves into a dedicated space on campus.

“We didn’t change the way we triage (patients), they still present to the emergency department,” said Christy Hay, director of clinical operations at BC Children’s Hospital.

After attending the ED, Hay said a small group of lower level acuity patients are rerouted to the satellite clinic to receive treatment from pediatricians — a process that so far, “has gone really well.”

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The BC Children’s Hospital emergency department has been slammed with sick children as of late, while COVID-19, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other illnesses spread.

Estimated wait times have recently exceeded 11 hours and some surgeries have been cancelled or delayed as beds in the intensive care unit remain scarce.

“That will happen,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday. “We make adjustments every day.

“I know there’s a desire to focus on the issue and that can be useful, but let’s face it, they’re doing the work and it is exceptional work.”

According to Dix, for the two-week period ending on Nov. 5, more surgeries were performed on adult and child patients in B.C. than ever before.

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Hay said her staff have done “remarkable work” and many are working through having sick children themselves, all on top of “unprecedent circumstances” for three years in a row.

Of the wait times experienced by families visiting the ED, Hay said BC Children’s Hospital is “really sorry.”

“We do triage when patients arrive so that our most critically ill patients get treated first … We work really hard to see patients and family as fast as we can.”

The spike in sickness and ED visits comes as the country grapples with a shortage of children’s painkillers, including Tylenol and Advil.

A shipment of ibuprofen recently arrived in Canada from the United States and a shipment of acetaminophen from Australia will arrive in the next couple of weeks, but federal health officials have not said what quantities are being imported.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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