Aging Misericordia Hospital falling apart, say staff, patients
'The only ICU in the region where the bed availability is based on the weather'
Staff at Edmonton's deteriorating Misericordia Hospital say conditions are so bad, they're what you'd expect in the third-world, not one of the richest nations in the world.
"At some point something's got to give," Dr. Monica Henry said. "We've already closed down major parts of the hospital.
- Interactive: Aging Misericordia Hospital in disrepair
We have problems with the infrastructure every single day- Covenant Health CEO Patrick Dumelie
"We have labs that are having to close intermittently because of flooding. You can't run a hospital like that. You'd expect that in Namibia, but not in Canada."
Leaky pipes, downed elevators and makeshift ICUs, all part of daily life at the structure.
CBC News was taken on a tour of west-end hospital where a number of systems are at the end of their life span, including plumbing, elevators and the emergency generators.
A temporary intensive care unit built 13 years ago was supposed to be replaced within 18 months, but is still in use.
"We're the only ICU in the region where the bed availability is based on the weather," Henry said. "If we had a room that would occasionally flood, if we had rain that came in a certain direction, ... we would have to close a room there and have to move the patient."
A flood last May forced more than 50 patients from their beds and over to the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
Major leaks from deteriorating pipes is almost a daily occurrence now.
The 45-year-old hospital was scheduled to be replaced, or at least rebuilt, six years ago.
"It's definitely an inconvenience," said Patrick Dumelie, CEO of Covenant Health, which runs the hospital. "We try to work around the infrastructure every single day and we have problems with the infrastructure every single day.
Dumelie insists the problems aren't affecting patient care even though the emergency room is handling twice the number of patients — close to 50,000 a year — it was built for.
One of those patients, Don Roberts, has been on a gurney for four days.
"Look up the hallway and there is nothing but poor old people laying here on stretchers," said Roberts' step daughter Karen Knoll. "It's just unacceptable. He's got enough suffering that he has to endure this."
Even areas that are being re-built aren't without problems.
"With the bathroom you can see that's not barrier free so for people who require wheelchairs or walkers you can see that it's very difficult to move them in and out of the bathroom," said Janet Schimpf, senior operating officer for the hospital.
Covenant Health says replacing the aging hospital is its top priority, something the staff say is long overdue.
With files from CBC's Nola Keeler