Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville is one of the main medical centres in Nova Scotia. It is the largest and leading medical facility in South West Nova, or the parlance of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, the Western Zone.
So it should be a leader in health care. But is it?
To fight the COVID-19 pandemic we are told to cover our faces, wash our hands, socially distance and to be careful of what we touch. We are to reduce touching our faces because that is a fast track to transmission. Every building or store we enter we are invited or urged to sanitize our hands. Valley Regional does this and also questions people attempting to enter on their health and potential exposure to the virus.
Private business are scrupulously cleaning objects and surfaces to discourage the potential exposure to the virus, which we have been told can linger on surfaces for days.
So why is the Nova Scotia Health Authority so shitty on maintaining the physical plant for our hospitals? Valley Regional has piss poor maintenance – I don’t blame the maintenance department, I blame those executives who defer maintenance and micro-manage the actual maintenance specialists.
I say it’s piss poor maintenance because throughout the hospital are broken surfaces, worn coverings, damaged furniture and holes in walls. Those places which have received attention have been covered in duck tape, as if TV’s Red Green Repair Team had been called in.
Duck tape leaves uneven surfaces which are impossible to disinfect. Aside from that, some of the “temporary” repairs represent a hazard to those who are unsteady on their feet, which in a hospital is quite a few people.
How long does it take to approve a repair? A case in point is the main corridor leading from the central atrium of the hospital to Medical Units A and B, the chapel, to Physical Therapy, X-ray and MRI departments and eventually to the back-end of the Emergency Unit, as well as the nurse manager’s office and a few other departments.
At the start of this corridor is a growing patch of loose tiles held in place by duck tape. It would seem like a temporary fix except that these titles have been loose since 2009. Between September 3, 2009 and June 3, 2010 I was at Valley Regional every day. I remember how the loose titles clicked when walked on. After an eight-year break from hospital visits, I found the same loose tiles still not repaired. They are still held in place by duck tape. The patch of loose titles has grown. And keeps growing. And more and more duck tape is used to secure the titles.
But that’s not the only “temporary” fix. Throughout the entrance atrium are another six spots where duck tape covers holes, uneven edges and lifting linoleum or loose titles. Further down that main corridor is a spot where the subfloor seems to have failed, creating a gap under the floor covering which sags under weight. This is problematic for someone using a cane or a crutch. The sag can put them off balance and send them flying. In recent years an edge of this flooring failure has been covered with duck tape.
Then we get to patient rooms which seem riddled with holes. Forgetting the cosmetic appearance of these holes and gashes, is the hazard presented by uneven surfaces. Uneven surfaces can’t be disinfected so they can become breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses.
So the question is: how beaten up must a hospital get before some executive in the elegant, safe, germ-free NSHA corporate headquarters authorizes a real, long-term repair?
What are our other hospitals and clinics like? Remember the Victoria General, which is our largest hospital complex, has had toxic water running through its pipes for over 30 years. The VG water is only good for flushing toilets. The NSHA currently spends $70,000 a year buying water for that facility. So over the decades the health executives have spent millions of dollars not correcting a water problem.
These photos of VRH show what I mean.