You Want a Coffee With That Bedpan? How About a French Cruller?

Speaking of which. Call it the donutification* of health care. (For my American readers, Tim Horton’s is a coffee/donut shop which is close to being a national institution.) Best line has to go the the nurses union president, who (if inevitably) advised the local health authority to “wake up and smell the coffee.”

Overflowing hospital ER spills into nearby Tim Hortons

When more than 100 patients overflowed the 48 beds in the Royal Columbian Hospital’s emergency room late Monday and early Tuesday, officials looked across the hall at a Tim Hortons outlet and started moving stretchers in. ER doctor spokesman Dr. Sheldon Glazer said it was better than the alternative of treating more people in hallways, as it allowed for better care and privacy.

Overflowing emergency rooms have been a long-standing problem in Lower Mainland hospitals. The problem is in part due to delays in transferring people out of emergency to beds in other wards.


With the consent of the café owners, it was converted into an overflow ER space with six stretchers. The area was sanitized, tables and chairs moved out, stretchers moved in and privacy screens installed.

Patients started occupying the beds about an hour after the outlet closed to the coffee and doughnut customers.

[Thanks to Zoe for bringing this to my attention yesterday.]

British Columbia Ministry of Health officials and hospital administrators are falling over each other to praise and congratulate the ED staff’s resourcefulness. Little mention from these functionaries of actually fixing the problem of ED overcrowding.


*Which can be formally described as any ad hoc, dramatic fix to intractable systemic problem actually in the health care system, which unfortunately actually fixes nothing .


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  1. #1 by Jenn Jilks on Thursday 03 March 2011 - 0953

    I read that one! Truth be told, this was a major car accident. Hopefully one in a lifetime. I’d rather that than in the hallways, myself. :-)

  2. #2 by undergrad RN on Thursday 03 March 2011 - 1433

    From what I’d read, the Tim’s was initially built as an overflow to the ER. So the concern for me is not really that *gasp* we were overflowing into a COFFEE SHOP! (I can think of worse places to house non-emergent pts)

    It IS, however, GROSSLY DISTURBING that it wasn’t some area health emergency that forced the use of overflow. It wasn’t a massive car accident or H1Nx or whatever. It was just another, busier-than-usual, day in Emerg.

    Have you heard of Raj Sherman? He’s an ER physician and MLA in Edmonton. He used to be Tory until he wrote a strongly worded letter to soon-to-be-ex Premier Stelmach regarding ER wait times, calling out the Tories on their never-realized election promises. Their answer was to boot him out of the party and he’s an Independent now…

  3. #3 by Chiropractic Saint paul on Saturday 05 March 2011 - 0833

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  4. #4 by TracyKM on Friday 11 March 2011 - 0944

    I also read that it was in the hospital’s plans that the Timmy’s was to be used for overflow….I’m amazed it hasn’t been done before. I spend a night in the ER during a miscarriage while waiting for a D&C (because I had the nerve to eat a few bites of dinner before I knew i was actually miscarrying, so they were making me wait till morning). I didn’t feel I needed to be there, and take up a bed/space that a true emergancy could use….but there seemed to be no where else to put me. I would have happily sat in a coffee shop, since I wasn’t sleeping anyway, LOL.

  5. #5 by Sarah on Friday 11 March 2011 - 1645

    Here’s a random converstaion my husband and I had the other night – he was incensed that Ontario doesn’t cover Herceptin for low risk, less than 1cm breast cancers. I work in Oncology, so I think I have a bit of perspective on this and we got to talking. I pointed out that the point of Herceptin is to prevent progression and low risk small tumours are, by definition, low risk for that. I also pointed out that health care dollars are finite and if we start paying for that, what else are we not paying for? BC pays for Herceptin for all HER2+ breast cancers… maybe they’re not paying for emergency room expansion…

    It’s a conversation that I’m really starting to think we need to have in public.

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