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Ridge Meadows Hospital receives ‘D’ grade

Ridge Meadows Hospital one of only eight in Canada to be given the lowest mark possible, although it had the third best rate in the country (for medium communities) for 30-day hospital mortality following serious heart attacks.   - THE NEWS/files
Ridge Meadows Hospital one of only eight in Canada to be given the lowest mark possible, although it had the third best rate in the country (for medium communities) for 30-day hospital mortality following serious heart attacks.
— image credit: THE NEWS/files

A Canada-wide study done by CBC that rated Ridge Meadows Hospital among the lowest in the country is being panned by patients and the Fraser Health Authority.

Ridge Meadows Hospital was among five Metro Vancouver hospital to receive a ‘D’ rating in the study, which based its assessment on data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The study used five of 21 clinical performance indicators, such as re-admission rates, rates of patients who died after major surgery, and unexpected complications tied to low nursing levels, such as bed sores or urinary tract infections.

Mike Boileau participated in an online survey on CBC’s website, but disagrees with its final results – meant to provide a snapshot of 240 acute-care hospitals across the country.

“From my experience, Ridge Meadows Hospital was just great,” says Boileau, who spent 10 days in hospital last year due to complications from pneumonia.

“I was treated with respect, the people cared for me professionally and with kindness. They wouldn’t let me leave until they were sure I could take care of myself at home.”

The Fraser Health Authority believes it’s misleading to judge the overall performance of a hospital based on the CBC report alone.

“We appreciate the work that CBC has put into their hospital report card project, but believe that the CBC results show that it is difficult to compare results between jurisdictions when the methods hospitals use to keep track of data about quality of care vary widely,” said spokesperson Roy Thorpe-Dorward.

In fact, if you look beyond the five indictors used in the CBC report, the Canadian Institute for Health Information data shows that Fraser Health hospitals have some of the best indicators in the province and nationally.

Ridge Meadows Hospital had the third best rate in the Canada (for medium communities) for 30-day hospital mortality following serious heart attacks.

The CBC notes the report cards are designed to bring more transparency and accountability to Canada’s health care system.

Unlike the U.K., U.S. and Australia, where information is easily available online, Canadians don’t have access to an independent assessment of how patients at a particular hospital fare.

Fraser Health though is already working towards making information on infection control, hand hygiene rates and wait times available.

But Thorpe-Dorward said Fraser Health is still several months away from being able to provide specific information about making that data public.

The B.C. Nurses’ Union was not surprised by the low ratings.

“Right across the area we cover, hospital and community nurses have seen their work intensity increase,” said Liz Ilczaszy, co-chair for the BCNU’s Simon Fraser region, which spans Burnaby to Maple Ridge.

“It’s because people are in hospitals for shorter stays, but have more complex health problems. When you have beds in hallways, it’s an indicator that there are not adequate measures for safe patient care.”

Nurses who work at Ridge Meadows Hospital tell Ilczaszy they often work entire shifts without being able to take breaks.

“It just reinforces what the BCNU has been saying: unless you have safe staffing levels, you are not going to have safe patient care,” she adds.

The union continues to push the province to keep its promise to hire more than 2,000 nurses by 2016 and listen to the concerns voiced by nurses.

Marc Dalton, B.C. Liberal MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission, hopes the ‘D’ grade doesn’t scare patients away from Ridge Meadows Hospital.

“I would hope that residents wouldn’t feel in anyway hesitant to go to that hospital because it’s an excellent hospital and it’s got excellent staff.”

He acknowledged there is always room for improvement, but was quick to point out that B.C. has the best health outcomes of any province in Canada, after Quebec.

“I think there are a lot of things to celebrate with our health care system,” said Dalton, adding that British Columbians have the longest life spans in Canada and the best outcomes for serious illnesses, such as cancer.

“We are always ready to examine ways to improve.”

The Metro Vancouver hospitals to get a ‘D’ rating include: Burnaby Hospital, Surrey Memorial Hospital, UBC Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital.

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