Calls for better trauma ER resources in Surrey after teen’s death
A doctor in Surrey says there is a demand for emergency room (ER) resources in the city to help address trauma-related incidents.
This comes after the mother of Ethan Bespflug, the Abbotsford teen who was fatally stabbed aboard a bus this month, told CityNews her son wasn’t taken to the closest hospital.
The 17-year-old was stabbed in Surrey near the King George SkyTrain Station, about a five-minute drive from the Surrey Memorial Hospital, which has a Level 4 trauma center.
However, Holly Indridson says he was taken to the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster — about a 15-minute drive away, and which has a Level 1 trauma center.
The Ministry of Health and Safety says Fraser Health facilities are designated from Level 1 to Level 5, with Level 1 offering the highest trauma care.
Dr. Amol Lail, an emergency room physician at the Surrey Memorial Hospital, says his ER department is underfunded, which is putting a strain on the healthcare system.
“At present, we are a Level 4 trauma center. We have absolutely no dedicated trauma services,” he said. “We do have a team of physicians, nursing, and allied health that can deal with trauma, but we have no dedicated resources.”
Lail says the location of the Royal Columbian “does pose some challenges,” like if bridges shut down in the winter. Although he adds that it “is a fantastic hospital.”
“But as Surrey gets bigger and bigger as the other areas in Fraser Health get bigger and bigger. We can’t expect one hospital to bear the load of over two million people. That’s just not sustainable,” he said.
The president of the Surrey Board of Trade says when it comes to healthcare investments, Surrey has been left behind for decades and needs to catch up to its growing population.
“The individual was not able to be treated locally within Surrey. The injury happened in Surrey, but he couldn’t be treated in Surrey and that’s not how it should be,” Anita Huberman said.
“No one thought our population would grow this significantly, this exponentially, by 1,200 to 1,400 people a month,” she added. “People have to travel across the bridge in order to receive health care service for trauma… and it really is unacceptable, because Surrey is going to be the largest city in British Columbia.”
In a statement to CityNews, the Ministry of Health confirms, “If a patient needs a higher level of trauma care, they may be transported or transferred to the Royal Columbian Hospital, where more specialized care is available.”
“Despite Fraser Health’s growing population, Fraser Health has projected trauma demand to stay relatively consistent over the next ten years. [However,] we are always looking at our services from a regional perspective to determine where enhancements can be made to support people in our communities over the long term,” the statement reads.
Lail says that there should be a Level 1 trauma center in Surrey, not just in New Westminster.
“For individuals who get injured [and are in need of] surgery, who are sick, who need trauma care, who maybe have a heart attack…they want to know that they can get that done in their own city,” he said.
Lail says he would be happy to see Surrey Memorial go from a Level 4 to a Level 3 trauma center.