Surrey Hospitals Foundation shines light on shortage of health services for children and young people

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Rani Senghera (right) and her family are calling for more health services closer to home in Surrey. (Left to right) Gurpreet, nine-year-old twins Jora and Kesar, and Rani Senghera. Photo submitted

THE The Surrey Hospitals Foundation is hosting ‘SHINE’, its inaugural holiday lighting fundraising event. This year the event will feature the Child and Youth Health Care Services at Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH).

On Tuesday, November 22 at 5 p.m., Surrey Memorial Hospital will kick off a six-week festive outdoor light show. It will be projected onto the exterior walls of the hospital during the donation holiday season.

“Surrey is a party town, with our residents honoring cultural holidays like Diwali, Gurupurab, Hanukkah and Christmas during the autumn and winter months. For years we have wanted to put on a display of holiday lights at the Surrey Memorial that celebrates our diversity. 2022 is the 30 of the Foundatione anniversary, which makes us very excited to launch our first ‘SHINE’ fundraising event, and this year we are highlighting the need for more pediatric services at SMH,” said Jane Adams, President and Chief director of the Surrey Hospitals Foundation.

According to the latest 2021 Census data from Statistics Canada:

  • Surrey is the fastest growing major city in Western Canada, with a growth rate of 9.7% and a total population of 568,322 compared to 2016.
  • Of Surrey’s total population, 23% are children and young people under the age of 19, or 129,040.
  • In 2021, mothers in Surrey gave birth to more babies than any other city in British Columbia with 6,010 births.
  • SMH has the only pediatric emergency department in the entire Fraser Health Region, which represents 41% of British Columbia’s children and youth, or nearly 400,000.

Investments in health services for children and young people have lagged behind Surrey’s population growth. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • In 2001, SMH had 24 funded pediatric inpatient beds, and in 2021, 16.
  • Of the 442 pediatric and mental health inpatient beds in British Columbia, Surrey has only 36, which is only 8% when 41% of British Columbia’s children and youth live in the region. Fraser Sanitary.
  • When SMH’s pediatric ER opened in 2013, one of only 2 in British Columbia, it was built for 20,000 pediatric visits. In 2019, it recorded 44,233 pediatric visits, more than double its capacity.
  • SMH’s General Paediatrics Program has 13 paediatricians, out of a total of 184 paediatricians and hospital-based subspecialists in BC, of ​​which only 3 have been added in the past 5 years.
  • In 2001, SMH’s Birthing Family Unit had 38 funded beds and by 2021 it had 42, an increase of only 4 in 20 years.
  • In 2014 SMH opened a NICU with 48 beds but in 2021 only 32 of the beds were funded and open.

“The numbers really speak for themselves and highlight how little service we have for our children in Surrey. We know it is best to provide care for children close to home, but due to the lack of services, we have to send our children to other cities every day to get the specialized health care they need” , pointed out Adams.

“When I gave birth to my twins at 29 weeks, I had to go all the way to BC Women’s because they didn’t have the specialist healthcare needed at SMH,” said Rani Senghera, a mother of twins from Surrey. “I was then transferred to SMH, but they had no room in their NICU for my premature babies, so I had to go to their general paediatrics ward. We really need more healthcare services in Surrey, especially for children, so we can serve our incredibly fast growing community and stay closer to home.

The Surrey Hospitals Foundation, together with its donors and supporters, has raised $6 million to renovate the Children’s Health Center which was built in 2001, as well as to fund innovative medical equipment, research initiatives and capital projects for SMH. This year alone in pediatrics, the Foundation invested in art and music therapy programs and purchased baby warmers and a portable oximeter for their NICU, funded additional mental health programs and spaces for youth, and created additional spaces to accommodate the future hiring of pediatric specialists.

“The need is deep for more facilities, more specialists and more services,” Adams said. “We are calling on donors to step up and join the Foundation in supporting child care in BC’s fastest growing city. Our aim is to help raise funds and awareness that more infrastructure and services are needed to treat children closer to home in Surrey.

From November to January, Surrey Hospitals Foundation’s ‘SHINE’ light show will celebrate donors, supporters and the diversity of its community. Proceeds from the seasonal exhibit will support the health and well-being of children and youth in the Fraser Health Region.

For more information visit www.SurreyHospitalsFoundation.com.

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