Navy veteran, 77, kept in hallway at Victoria General Hospital for six days

A 77-year-old navy veteran spent six days and nights in the hallways of Victoria General Hospital — his length of stay apparently overlooked as he was moved between floors, Island Health said on Wednesday.

“Today is Day 6 and he’s still in the hallway and he’s not the only one; he’s not even the only Canadian veteran,” said Darren Laur, a retired Victoria police staff sergeant.

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Laur’s father, Neil Laur, was brought to the emergency department of Victoria General Hospital on Jan. 17 with “significant medical issues.”

He stayed overnight, received tests, and was released only to be called back on Jan. 18. Island Health said in total he was on three different floors.

“There’s no privacy. No dignity. No respect,” said Darren Laur. His father had to sponge bathe until he was able to use another patient’s bathroom to shower.

On Wednesday night a room was made available for Neil Laur.

“We lost track of how many total days he had been in hospital, said Island Health’s Mark Blandford, director of clinical operations for Victoria General Hospital, who apologized on behalf of the hospital and health authority.

Staff reviewed on Wednesday the length of hallway cases and suggested that no other patient had remained in a hallway more than 24 hours, said Island Health spokeswoman Meribeth Burton. Hallway care is temporary while patients are in transition to units or awaiting an in-patient room. Patients continue to receive the same care as other patients while in hallways.

“It’s not something we want to see at all and that’s why we try to limit it to a short period of time and we’re very careful about who we put in the hallway,” Blandford said. Those patients would neither be infectious nor critical, he said.

Blandford said 24 hours is the maximum acceptable wait and six days is not acceptable. “We didn’t manage that well. … That’s something we are going to redress. We have definitely learned from that.”

Island Health said it is experiencing a significant number of patients at most of its hospitals, including Victoria General Hospital.

The first three months of the year are typically busier because of influenza and respiratory illnesses.

“Those are the kinds of things that are spiking,” Blandford said. “It’s a tad higher than it was last year. It seems to grow every year by a couple of per cent.”

Island Health said despite the volume increases, patients are never turned away and critical and emergency cases are dealt with immediately.

Last week, Island Health opened 18 additional beds at Royal Jubilee Hospital to help with capacity issues on the south Island, said Burton.

Both Darren Laur and Island Health hailed the hard work of physicians, nurses, clinical and support staff.

Laur said Island Health’s heartfelt apology helped to take the sting out of seeing seniors treated in hallways, but doesn’t change the reality that more federal and provincial funding is needed.

Laur, who has an internet and social media safety company, posted updates about his father’s care and attracted attention from health professionals and patients across the country and beyond. He calls hallway care shameful. Psychological, emotional and social needs must be addressed in addition to physical needs, he said.

“I’m not just doing this for my dad,” Laur said.

“Dad’s not going to rock the boat, but I’m making the best of a very bad situation. It absolutely tore my heart out when I saw what was being done to him and others.”

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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