Top doc resigns in protest

The South Okanagan General Hospital’s former chief of staff says he feels he had “no real options” but to resign in protest of a potential six-bed loss at the hospital.

Dr. Peter Entwistle recently stepped down from his position as chief of staff at SOGH, citing six beds he says are slated for removal from the hospital, but Interior Health senior staff say that decision hasn’t been made yet.

The hospital has 18 beds for acute care, with an extra six beds that are often used for emergencies, but the fate of those beds is currently unknown. Entwistle, who had held the position since 2009, said the hospital has been feeling pressure to drop those six beds.

“My concern is that doing that would mean that patients would be left in ER who should be in a hospital ward,” Entwistle said. “We know that that would adversely affect their welfare.”

Entwistle said a patient in the emergency department has a significantly higher mortality rate when in the ER than those who are in acute care, but the reason for that isn't clear. He speculated that nurses and doctors in the ER are often more preoccupied than in other departments.

“I spoke strongly from within to try and stop this from happening, but it seems that it’s going to be happening, and I had to speak out publicly,” Entwistle said. “I couldn’t do that as chief of staff and that was the reason I had to resign.”

Interior Health’s health services administrator for the South Okanagan, Penticton and Summerland Carl Meadows said no decisions have been made on the six beds in question, however.

“It would even be premature to talk about that, because any kinds of decisions like that would be made collaboratively with the physicians, nursing staff and the administration,” Meadows said, adding that there has been no timeline for making that decision.

However, Meadows did acknowledge that there have been talks on the fate of the six extra beds.

“There’s opportunities ahead of us to, because we do use those 18 taxpayer funded beds, and they are utilized,” Meadows said. “We don’t need the full complement of all of the rest of the physical beds above the 18.”

But Entwistle says he’s seen a firm push against keeping the extra beds in the hospital’s acute care department.

“It’s been a very frustrating experience, and I think I’ve lost trust in what I’m being told,” he said. “It seems every expectation that the physical beds will be reduced to 18.”

During an all-candidates forum in Oliver last week, Entwistle said Linda Larson told the crowd the decision had been made in an effort to keep it at one bed per room.

Meadows acknowledged that having one bed per room is advantageous for those who are in the one room.

“With infection control and confidentiality and privacy as an example,” Meadows said. “There are some rooms that, in the South Okanagan that have two physical beds in them that would be ideal for single patient rooms.”

But Entwistle says if a patient is pushed into the ER, it can have effects beyond that individual patient.

“If you’re kept in the emergency department, then other people who are emergencies can’t come in, because you’ve got the bed,” Entwistle said. “It has a knock-on effect…. That just increases waiting times as well, so it’s a bad thing all around.”



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