Surrey mayor ‘pleased’ province has promised to expand Surrey Memorial Hospital

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke says she is happy to see the province is making a commitment to expand the region’s major hospital — one which has seen major staffing controversies over the last month.

However, Locke says more needs to be done for Surrey Memorial Hospital, its staff, and patients.

“I’m pleased that the minister heard the calls, the cries from the doctors and the nurses and the families. I’m very pleased he heard that cry. But I can tell you the need is great. The need is immediate and we are hopeful that we will see more on the horizon,” she told CityNews Wednesday.

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Locke’s comments come as Health Minister Adrian Dix says the government will expand the hospital in addition to a previous commitment to build a second hospital in Surrey.

“More details on this expansion at Surrey Memorial will be identified in the next five months as we update our refreshed clinical service plan through the fall 2023 annual capital planning process,” he said.

Dix says the expansion will increase capacity for more inpatient and outpatient care, surgeries, and clinical programs at the hospital.

Locke notes that Dix must be prepared to do more, as the population south of the Fraser River is only going to grow — increasing demand on the healthcare system.

“We are still way, way underserved in the City of Surrey, and I know now that the minister has heard those challenges, and now it’s up to him to make sure that we get equity and funding in our region,” she said.

“I am very happy that the minister made this announcement. But I do know in talking to some doctors that I’ve already heard that they think this is not near enough. But we do have to keep this ball rolling because of south Fraser, and Surrey especially, the pressures on our city for healthcare infrastructure are just tremendous,” Locke added.

Doctors and other healthcare workers have said the hospital is operating in crisis mode, because of a lack of resources and staffing challenges.

In response to the province’s announcement of the hospital expansion, the Association of Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC said Wednesday that while the Fraser Health community will benefit from the increased services, the expansion “must come with recognition that without appropriate staffing and quality practice environments that enable care excellence, expansion of services alone may not achieve the change that is needed in B.C.’s busiest care centre.”

“Nurses and NPs (nurse practitioners) know the value in providing wide-ranging team-based, integrative care services. With these expansive sets of skills, nurses and NPs must be supported to work to full scope of practice across the system including acute-care settings, helping patients, and alleviating the burden in ERs across B.C.,” the association continued.

The BC Nurses’ Union echoed the association’s sentiment, saying while the news is welcome, more needs to be done in the province.

“Nurses at SMH have been calling for the government and Fraser Health to address the chronic congestion in the emergency department, the sharp increase of patient care needs, and a severe staff shortage that has left nurses, doctors and allied health care professionals burnt out and morally distressed,” a statement from the union said.

With files from Dean Recksiedler and Kier Junos

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