Hospital hallway stay for Sooke resident adds up to one month

CHEK
Island Health says the Victoria General Hospital has been operating at 103 per cent capacity.

Island Health says its hospitals are operating over capacity, meaning a Sooke resident had to spend a cumulative month in a hospital hallway over his three recent visits.

Bernie Radelfinger is undergoing treatment for painful pancreatitis, and over his three visits, each visit has been spent in the hallway since there were no rooms available.

However, his luck changed at his most recent visit when he was given a room.

“It felt like a penthouse suite. It was a huge difference. I could try to get some more sleep because the lights, when they are off, they are off. I had my own bathroom, sometimes shared with somebody else. At least it’s in the room,” Radelfinger said from his home in Sooke.

He spent nearly a month sleeping in a busy hallway with little or no privacy.

“It was degrading, depressing, and I wasn’t the only one. There were other people on that floor, too, for whatever period of time. Suppository in the hallway, that was a lot of fun,” Radelfinger said.

To cope with days of living in the hospital hallway, Radelfinger resorted to wearing noise-cancelling headphones and a mask over his eyes.

His wife, Elena Christians, said the situation was difficult, even with a partial partition to give her husband some privacy.

“People can still see you when they are walking by. The buzzer for the nurses’ station, all the patients that press the button for nurses’ help was right above his head. There was no rest,” Christians said.

In a statement to CHEK News, Island Health says, “…when some sites are extremely busy, some patients are being cared for in temporary places, including hallways. We know this is not ideal, and we apologize.”

Victoria General Hospital has been operating at more than 103 per cent capacity in the 2023/24 fiscal year.

Radelfinger and his wife work as educational assistants when he’s able to work.

“I was told by my doctor initially that I would be recovered by now, but since then I’ve had a few more attacks. The recovery is more like a year now, so you get more attacks of pancreatitis, it swells more, and takes more time to heal,” Radelfinger said.

Island Health also states that it never turns patients away, but capacity is an ongoing issue at all Island facilities.

Radelfinger just hopes any future visits involve a room so he can recover and heal in peace.

READ MORE: Nurses rally outside of Victoria General Hospital over staffing concerns

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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