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87-year-old B.C. man spent nine days in hospital hallway

Eric Roberts said he felt like a ‘second-class citizen’ while at Victoria General Hospital
Eric Roberts spent nine out of 10 days at the Victoria General Hosptial in the hallway. (Courtesy of Eric Roberts)

When 87-year-old Eric Roberts was admitted to hospital he thought he would be in the privacy of a room, but he spent nine out of 10 days in the hallway.

On Feb. 24 the full-time potter was admitted to the Victoria General Hospital for several infections and wounds he incurred after having a serious fall at his Greater Victoria home. Roberts was later discharged on March 4.

Once he arrived at the hospital, he figured he’d be in the hallway temporarily and eventually get a room. However, Roberts was in the hallway for most of his stay.

“You put up with it for a few days and as you start to get a little better you think, ‘Well, I see people leaving and new people coming into rooms, but I’m still in the hallway.’”

The senior said for the first three days he was in great pain and delirium. It wasn’t until later he was able to stay in a room for a day and he had family and friends come by to visit him.

For four days Roberts was parked in the hallway outside the garbage and laundry room. He said someone would come by every day with 12 to 15 bags to put into the room. Roberts added one morning he had to move his food tray seven times.

The patient said the nurses would politely apologize, but he still felt like a “second-class citizen.”

“You are in the hallway and you don’t have a screen around you at night and you can hear all the little activities that are going on in the nurse’s station,” explained Robert.

Island Health told Black Press Media in a statement that although they cannot speak specifically about a patient case due to privacy, the hospital is dealing with ongoing capacity issues.

“When our sites are extremely busy, at times, some patients are being cared for in temporary places, including hallways. We know this is not ideal, and we apologize. 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.”

Island Health also mentioned that the Victoria General Hospital and Royal Jubilee Hospital both have a program that allows admitted hospital patients to receive care at home and not in a hospital. Additionally, Island Health noted that they have a “rigorous” process to ensure that the most-at-need people are prioritized for long-term care beds.

According to Island Health, from 2022 to 2023 the Victoria General Hospital had an occupancy rate of 102.4 per cent. The rate increased to 103.9 per cent between 2023 and 2024.

Although data wasn’t shared from 2020 to 2022 due to COVID-19, from 2018-to-2019 the occupancy rate was even higher at 106.4 per cent.

“It is important to note, that occupancy over 100 per cent does not mean patients are in ‘hallways.’ The percentage over 10o can include inpatients in the emergency departments waiting for an inpatient bed,” said Island Health in a statement about the data.

Premier David Eby was asked about Roberts’ situation during an unrelated news conference Thursday (March 21). He said Roberts’ experience doesn’t meet the standard of care anyone should receive in the province, pointing to hospital expansions and new build, plans for a brand-new medical school to train more health-care workers and a health-human resources strategy.

“I’m really disappointed that this gentleman had to go through this experience, but to him and all British Columbians, we will work night and day to make sure that you get the health care that you deserve.”

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About the Author: Ella Matte

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