BC Critical Care: a Personal Journey

I was supposed to be cruising. You know… my usual end-of-winter Florida departure with 2,000 possible new friends at sea … well pampered, provisioned, entertained and totally relaxed .. a perfect end to another winter season and a great way to head home for the Spring, Summer and Fall.

Not this year.

On Friday afternoon, March 30 I ended up at St. Paul’s Hospital Emergency Department after suffering chest discomfort … something I thought would likely just be cleared and/or treated with medication.

I was wrong.

I ended up spending 28 days in St. Paul’s cardiac ward: not only had I suffered a heart attack, requiring triple bypass surgery, but also was hit with renal failure and bleeding ulcers requiring internal cauterization and four units of blood … none of this EVER being even indicated in regular checkups, ultra-sounds etc. over my many decades …. but ALL occurring simultaneously three weeks after my 73rd birthday.

Lucky I was not on that trans-Atlantic cruise I had booked and paid for only weeks earlier.

Instead, I was able to personally experience, witness, admire, endure various aspects of our critical care health system … or at least, a small part of it from St. Paul’s Hospital’s cardiac ward for 28 days … and, of course, blog and report about it from my perspective.

First, and foremost, my own experience was that BC medical care, at least in St. Paul’s cardiac department, is absolutely FIRST RATE … not just the surgeons and other doctors and medical teams involved, but also the various levels of nurses, practitioners, assisting care staff, lab technicians, counsellors as well.

I have no doubt my life was saved at St Paul’s.

But it was only on reading my full discharge papers that I even realized the full extent of the critical health issues involved in my case. And apart from my surgeon and his resident intern, I can’t even begin to remember the names of all the other specialists and doctors who came to my aid .. at all times of the day, night, weekdays and weekends.

And in case anyone wonders, I spent my entire stay in a public ward (4 beds) … not private or semi-private. And NEVER did I feel my care or anyone’s care I witnessed was affected in any way by being in a public ward.

I also cannot help but recall that, days before flying back to BC, I had visited a Walk In clinic in Florida, where … after finding out I DID have travel medical coverage … without even using a stethoscope or taking an EKG or doing ANY kind of checks …tried to steer me to their own cardiologist “who could see me that day”.

I still wonder what my treatment bill would have added up to being hospitalized there for major surgery and my other illnesses for almost a month! (Probably still not good for my heart to even ponder that!).

But I’m back … in BC, and getting better! So what would a Harvey blog be without SOME critiques! 🙂

If I spotted/experienced any weaknesses at St Paul’s …. it was in two areas that are “non-medical”: cleaning and food catering.

These, of course, are merely MY OWN observations … but I sometimes was surprised at the slackness of cleaning in patient areas.

The main corridors (regularly seen by hospital brass, doctors staff etc.) were kept spotless, and seemed to me the ward bed areas closest to the hallways and bathrooms were regularly swept and mopped. But I (and fellow patients) in two different wards noticed beds near the windows and thus further away from the doorway … were swept not so much. Pieces of paper, needle tip plastic covers, pills that fell around or under beds would literally sit there for days.

I really have no idea whether these services are privatized or operated directly by St Paul’s, but certainly was surprised at some of the failings.

The good news: whenever a patient left, the bed and entire area around it underwent a thorough sanitization process.

As then there was the food … word among patients this is apparently another privatization cost-saving measure. I had no idea … but was appalled at some of it.

First, the hits: turkey meatloaf; herb-baked sole; beef chili; pasta; meatballs, tasty salads, soups and the sliced and diced fruits were all quite decent. And I renewed a childhood affection for morning porridge.

And let’s face it: St Paul’s is a hospital, not a hotel … with a whole multitude of restrictive diets to be addressed.

We get that …but still has to be said: some of it was downright awful: worst “scrambled” egg ever tasted anywhere; tuna, chicken salad or salmon sandwiches (served over and over again as a “main” course) so thinly spread on tasteless wheat bread (hope they don’t pay more than .25 a loaf); and, then there was Pollock, more Pollock (Marinara) and more Pollock (Lemon), Pollock (poached) …. probably the most tasteless fish I have ever encountered anywhere in my world travels… I actually gagged on it my second time trying it .. and I LOVE fish!

I realize this may sound picky …. but when you are 28 days in a ward, unable to leave because you’re totally immobile or wearing heart monitoring gear that alarms if you leave the ward, you start to wonder why prisoners in BC jails or federal penitentiaries are served better meals than patients in BC hospitals? Should the UN’s Human Rights Council become involved?

Fortunately, visitors can bring patients food … a true treat …. as long as they NEVER bring Pollock!

The road back will be a long one … three months or so before I am fully liberated from the restrictions I now face.

Just happy to be home …. back blogging and able to express appreciation to St Paul’s team (ALL of them) … and also BC/Canadian Health Care!

Harv Oberfeld

(NEXT: The CORPORATIONS …. what it was like to cancel some pretty expensive travel plans at the last minute!)

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37 Responses to BC Critical Care: a Personal Journey

  1. Gordie says:

    I have complete confidence in our health care system for serious illnesses and emergencies. However, here in Victoria it is next to impossible to get a family GP and you have to line-up at walk-in clinics before they even open up to see a doctor. Thankfully, I rarely need to see a specialist but on the few times that I have had to, the wait times may be up to 3 months or so, but for a non-critical illness, that is okay by me.

  2. Helena Handcart says:

    Welcome back Harvey. You were sorely missed. I wish you a speedy recovery back to your usual self.

  3. Ed Seedhouse says:

    Well Harv, welcome back, and congratulations on your survival.

    I spent a week in Hospital after open heart surgery in Fubruary- 4 bypasses and a new aortic valve. I got a room with only my bed in it in the recovery ward.

    I agree with many of your observations – but if you think your food was bad try eating the same food mashed up into pulp because they wouldn’t let me have surgery until all my decayed teeth were previously removed. And that was all my remaining teeth.

    I was lucky enough to get prompt treatment after reporting exercise induced chest pain and extremely lucky in that I got the surgery before I had an actual heart attack, so the heart muscle itself was relatively undamaged.

    So my recovery has been swift and my heart is working normally, or at least my cardiologist thinks so. I have noticed that I can climb stairs far more easily than before the surgery.

    I have a year on you – coincidentally 74 is the age my father died due to heart problems. My mom made it to 83 so now I suppose I have a chance now to beat her. And as I got a tissue valve instead of a mechanical one I am now part cow!

  4. Gordon Stewart says:

    Harvey, needless to say we missed your comments in your BLOG and are very pleased that you managed to get back to Canada for treatment. I’ve followed you for many years, both in Ottawa and BC, and always admired your incisive questions to politicians. and wondered how you ever kept up the pace. Now it’s time to slow down a bit and concentrate on getting completely better. Best of luck.

    Gordon Stewart

  5. Howard says:

    Quite a story – glad to hear you’re on the mend!

    At a very similar age to you I’ve had a similar experience with a stroke, blood clots, and type 2 diabetes all developing in rapid sequence just a few years into retirement, following a lifetime of being
    free of health issues and despite a rigorous exercise regime.

    I was in the “Healthy Heart” program at St. Paul’s
    and found it to be first class in every way.

    Regarding hospital food, Fraser Health via the Royal Columbian was excellent in my view, despite the usual carping from some of the patients. They had prepared a dinner featuring perch one evening
    which was the best I’ve experienced anywhere.
    The rest was really good too, and I was somewhat alarmed to be putting on weight while in there!

    Hope you can share some of your outpatient details as you go through your recovery process – would be interesting for sure.

  6. Gene The Bean says:

    Health and happiness to you Harvey.

    What an ordeal but you came out on the right side of the grass and that is the only thing that is important.

    Your critique of St Pauls is similar to what I have heard before.

    We are just lucky that the “you know who’s” didn’t get far along the path of medical privatization or your care would have been ‘pollock’ like as well. And yes, both food services and ‘maintenance and cleaning’ have been privatized (by the “you know who’s”) so you have just witnessed first hand and for an extended period, what that really means.

    So glad you are here – both on the planet and on the blog!

    Take care.

    PS: I have two close friends that both should be dead from serious “unknown” heart issues and I just want to say who much of a joy they are to be around. Every day they smile and laugh and enjoy everything and everyone around them – because they know, they are soooo lucky. It can be a curse or a gift …. I know which it’ll be for you. Enjoy.

  7. Lulymay says:


    When you mentioned you had something exciting to talk about upon your return, you health would have been the very last thing I might have imagined. So good to hear you are on the mend and I’m sure all you other fans are too.

    Keep up with whatever they tell you is a must do for a complete recovery and in the meantime, do keep us entertained while your recuperation continues.

  8. D. M. Johnston says:


    Being a somewhat infrequent guest at our local Emerg. with an ongoing medical issue and sometimes, liking my good humour, quick wit and repartee, they insist I stay a few days I can say our doctors, nurses, an all sundry specialists are first rate.

    And yes, the food, well, I want to lose a few pounds anyways.

    Say what you want, out health care system works and works well.

    While your heart scare kept you in the hospital, I had a we scare with some tests, suggesting I may have cancer.

    In just four weeks I went from test to the “roto-rooter” (colonoscopy) and now awaiting the final results.

    The nurses were wonderful and everything went according to plan.

    Take care, mend, rest, relax and I wish all the best for you!


    For all the time i have spent in emerg. I have only met one “Nurse Rachet”.

    For the rest, hard working, caring and dependable, I salute them.

  9. r says:

    be well

    google- heart attack supplemnts-if u want

  10. e.a.f. says:

    OMG, Harvey, I’m so sorry. I thought you’d be having some fun in an unexpected way. I’m so glad to hear you are doing well.

    St. Paul’s is an excellent hospital and always has been. That is why I’m concerned they plan to “move” it to another location.

    Food and cleaning were privitzed back in the day. Cleaning was privitized by el gorod shortly after he came into office. the first thing he did was fire 9K hospital cleaners. It was the largest mass firing of women in Canadian history. Staff were able to apply for their old jobs, which were up to $18 an hr. to new salaries which were in range of $10 to $12 an hr. And people wonder why child poverty increased in B.C. A lot of staff left, they went to work in unionized hotels and other places.

    The contracts went to corporations who were interested in making a profit. Less staff used, the more profit.

    Your observations regarding public areas vs private areas are accurate. Friends and family have been in 4 major hospitals and the biggest complaint is dirty hospital room bathrooms. Some actually would get out of their rooms, dragging that poll to use the toilet in the public lobby. Some demanded commodes to be placed next to their beds, insisting they couldn’t walk to the bathroom and would sue if they fell. Some had family members clean their areas.

    Staff aren’t unwilling to clean, they are prevented from doing so. Every thing is in the contract, as we heard so frequently with the opening of the new hospital in the comox valley. Ya, as if that was going to help. If the contract stipulates the bathrooms in the rooms get cleaned twice a day, that is it. Doesn’t matter if there is some one with diaphria, shit on the ceilings, the bathrooms aren’t cleaned. Doesn’t matter if the other patient has something which spreads like wildfire, the bathrooms don’t get cleaned any faster or more frequently.

    As one person found out, the room’s bathroom was full of shit first thing in the a.m. Two other patients needed to use that bathroom and there was no one to clean it. Finally a R.N. being paid $70K a year cleaned the toilets. The cleaners would start later and would stick to their schedule.

    How it works in some hospitals is the staff won’t clean outside of the contract without permission from the U.S.A. or some such place. If there is a need for emergency cleaning, the person in charge of cleaning for the hospital, who does not report to any one in the hospital, has to make a phone call to get permission to clean. Once that has been done, then the cleaner can do the work. Now imagine that “emergency” is in an O.R. and every one has to wait 15 minutes. yes, it has happened. Surgeons, techs, nurses, etc. all waiting.

    The cleaning company then charges the hospital extra because its outside the contract. The cleaners are then given a bonus for that extra cleaning. Hence their unwillingness to clean outside the contract.

    With a new NDP government the first thing they ought to do is get rid of the private cleaning companies, but that may be hard given how long the b.c. lieberals signed those contracts for.

    There are other issues also with the private cleaning companies. but we will leave it that.

    So happy you’re recovering and yes St. Paul’s is a great place to be for heart stuff. The staff are fabulous and make you feel calm and cared for.

  11. MRT says:

    Wow, you really were hit with a lot of medical issues at once; glad to hear that you are recuperating at home and hope you have no further medical issues.

    Because of my elderly mother’s several admissions to hospital in the last year, I can attest to your observed dietary and cleanliness issues. I know these two departments of health care in B.C. have been privatized, but the food can be really gross with no variety and housekeeping hit and miss and it’s shameful. I would hate to be admitted for any extended period of time; would have to rely on family members for sustenance lol!

    Take care of yourself and welcome back……….

  12. e.a.f. says:

    Given some of the infections which go through hospitals, do we remember how 86 people died, within 2 1/2 years, in Burnaby General several years ago, of il deficile? Well that is due to non cleaning and bad cleaning. St. Paul’s may clean the area well when a new patient comes in but I can tell you of at least 2 hospitals where they aren’t. people who are in the know, have family members go in and bleach the bed frames, everything around the bed before their relative enters the room. Its never fun to find dried blood on the bed frame when you get into the bed.

    Some take anti germ wipes and hand santiziers with them and insist all staff clean their hands and what they are carrying prior to permitting anything or anyone to touch them. (O.K. it helps if you have a back ground in how hospitals are to be cleaned properly. At one time they liked management people to have a science degree or be a certified Executive Housekeeper.)

    Some hospitals have regular out breaks of diseases associated with unclean spaces and have to bring in staff from other hospitals which have staff who know how to do it. What control there is on the cleaning products is any one’s quess because of course the contractor is going to use the cheapest product available. Given the turn over of staff, they aren’t all trained nor have enough experience. Most take the job, get cleaning experience and move on to other work.

    Where once being a hospital cleaner was a good paying job with pensions, medical, holidays, its now seen as an entry level job which you want out of as soon as possible.

    many who work in hospitals can’t make it on the wages so they have a second job. Result, the staff is perpetually tired and really aren’t doing a decent job. A year ago a family member was in hospital for 3 weeks. I went in every day, at least once if not twice to “monitor”. if you don’t it can lead to problems.

  13. e.a.f. says:

    St. Paul’s is a Catholic hospital and therefore has more money than some public hospitals. They belong to Providence. At one time Mount St. Joseph’s had extra millions and was able to put it into equipment and such. Back in the day, like the start of the last century, Mount St. Joseph’s was the only hospital which would treat people who were ” Oriental”. So if you were Chinese, Japanese, etc. that is where you went because only the Nuns would provide health care. The Chinese descent community has been very generous over the years. IF you go into the lobby for scans you will see the “tree” with all the leafs and all the Chinese names there. Other hospitals don’t always have that.

    Money hospitals raise can only be used to purchase equipment as far as I remember. They can’t use it to hire more cleaning staff, etc.

    There is also a culture in some hospitals, which continues to this day. St. Paul’s had a culture of caring and excellence. it continues to this day. I can remember, as a kid, when St. Paul’s had the first kidney machine. Jack Wassserman used to write about how difficult it was for the “panel” to make decisions regarding who got to use it and who didn’t. They did get more.

    When AIDS hit Vancouver, St. Paul’s was front and centre with help and health care.

    Now there are hospitals which don’t have that culture and well we see them mentioned from time to time on t.v. where people die and it makes the news. there are hospitals I will not go to. I’d rather go to my dog’s Vet and I’m not kidding. I lived in one area, where that was my instructions to friends, if they couldn’t get me on a plane to get me out of the town to another hospital. I wasn’t alone in that thought, some people made a point of going to the next town for medical emergencies.

    Now having said all of the above, I still believe we in B.C. like most of the rest of Canada have a first rate medical system. there are hospitals which I will use and ones I will not. Some times you have to change doctors to get into the “right” hospital and yes, my cardiologist is affiliated with St. Paul’s and my G.P. with Mount St. Joseph’s.

    Prior to the government closing St. Vincent’s in Vancouver it was another excellent hospital and again Catholic. they actually still had Nuns there. O.K. just for the record I’m an atheist.

    With Horgan announcing they will build a new hospital in Surrey, THANK YOU, they might want to give something a try. DO NOT PRIVITZE HOSPITAL SERVICES. KEEP IT ALL IN HOUSE, HIRE STAFF, ETC. Bet in the long run it saves money. A hospital in Calgary did it, went and got their old unionized staff back, paid them what they would have gotten paid, lost the privitized company and well wouldn’t you know it, infections went down.

  14. Marge says:

    Thanks Harvey for that personal insight on what it is to be a heart patient.

    We went through something similar with my husband three years ago. He woke me around midnight saying he had been having chest pains and was going to go to Emergency. My husband is not one who goes to doctors for anything so naturally I was extremely worried. He actually drove to emergency himself with me as the nervous passenger beside him.
    When we got to Emergency they took him right in and put him on the heart monitors. The doctor also asked if he smoked and my husband told him he did. The doctor then said this was the last day he would ever smoke.
    The doctor on call asked him if any of his family had heart conditions. My husband lied (he wanted to go to a Canucks game that day) and said no. I went over and told him that both his parents had died early and that his grandfather had major heart health issues.
    Soon as I said that, the doctor was on the phone and my husband was whisked away by ambulance to Royal Columbian in New Westminster. Another friend of hearts had had a heart infection and had been there for quite a long while so we knew that the Columbian was known as a “heart” hospital. My husband had two stents put in – one on an extra artery that is supposed to help with heart disease, obviously the smoking negated that benefit.
    He was then returned to our original hospital, where he stayed three days. Of course the food was lousy and the floors dirty. This is an old hospital so things might have looked worse than they would in a more modern one. During the time he was gone I threw away all his cigarettes and lighters. For three years he has been smoke free. He attends Healthy Heart classes for exercise and has regular checkups with a heart doctor. We got lucky!

    I wish you a speedy recovery Harvey.

  15. brian forst says:

    Hi Harvey….My heart “event” kept me in Peace Arch only about a quarter of the time you were hospitalized but…that cleaning thing is bang on there as well. Matter of fact…I went home with a couple maladies I picked up there, which I understand is common. Agree completely with your feelings re friendly and competent staff and re the food…I just steeled myself and willed it to be healthy at least. Now…start walking!! 🙂

    (Response: Hey Frosty …. they sure did thoroughly sanitize each bed once each occupant left, which was good. Interestingly, inside our ward bathroom was a sign giving a phone number for customer cleanliness concerns: I called … the number was disconnected! LOL! Still not walking much …but HAVE started. Slowly…but surely…. h.o)

  16. Gary T says:

    Wow ! You certainly weren’t kidding. I did not expect this at all. I am so glad that you are alright after your journey into our healthcare system. I wish you all the best, and continued good health Harvey. Being close to your age, stories like that tend to make me nervous for my own health.

    (Response: The strangest part of it for me is how it all collapsed all at once. I was never an athlete, to be sure, but for 73 years, I had always qualified for really cheap travel health insurance … answering NO to almost the entire list of major illnesses they ask about .. and had seen so many more “fit” people I know fall victim to heart problems, cancers, prostate illnesses etc etc at much younger ages. And then …WHAM! h.o)

  17. Harry lawson says:


    We and you are very fortunate, the cardiac care at St Pauls is second to none. I have had several heart events and several strokes. . Soon you will feel better then ever . Your insights in the health care is very accurate. You will feel stronger every day.

  18. Keith says:

    Holy Moly Harvey!. That was a tale to tell and great news that you’re on the mend.

    Great to have you back now takes on a whole new meaning.

    Be well, do what they tell you and the glass is always half full.

  19. Sandy says:

    Hi Harvey glad to see you are home and on the mend. I was in the bed across from Harvey and went home on the 16th. of April. I have been home for four weeks now and am doing really well with my recovery. Harvey every day gets better. I am walking 40 min. a day now. you will be well soon too my friend. Kelly says Hi 🙂

    (Response: Not walking too well yet, Sandy. But slowly getting there! Stay healthy! h.o)

  20. Kelly says:

    It was a pleasure meeting you Harvey. So glad to hear that your recovering well. My mom and I will never forget you. Had many great conversations and many experiences never forgotten. Great story by the way!!. Take care and all of the best Harvey.

    (Response: Enjoyed our chats . Wonderful to be home, right! Stay healthy! h.o)

  21. Eldon says:

    Best wishes on s speedy recovery. Justin, Andrew, and Jagmeet have had it too easy without you.

    (Response: Even in hospital, they had me laughing, seething … will soon take them on again. h.o.)

  22. 13 says:

    Luckily , its been many years since I spent 2 weeks at St Pauls for surgery on a shattered ankle. Your story of quality care delivered by excellent staff is one that I have seen many times over and over. For all the criticism that people heap on our health care system your story rings of reality and truth.
    My mom spent her last years testing the ability of our health care system.From extended care homes to the many ambulance rides to Royal Columbian I watched my mom get some of the best and kindest care Ive ever seen.
    Its good to see you back and I look forward to following your blog for many more years.

  23. Geoff says:

    Harvey! That was quite the scare to read… can only imagine what it was like to live through. Keeping you in my thoughts.

    (Response: Thanks, Geoff, my old colleague. Still remember fondly working together those years ago! h.o)

  24. OldIslander says:

    Good morning, Harvey. What a shock, to read of your medical adventures over the past month. I am delighted at your recovery and that you’ve shared your story in this blog post.

    Someone was indeed looking out for you, preventing you from being 3 or 4 days out to sea, before the symptoms developed. I recall being on a cruise ship in Funchal, Maderia. An hour before we were to depart for Florida, the Captain came on the PA, and spoke for several minutes, imploring anyone who was feeling anxious for any reason, about being 8 days at sea, to consider leaving the ship. He said that we would be on our own out there, with absolutely no medical assistance available (except for what the ship’s doctor could provide…). It was very sobering to hear.

    It is infuriating when the Canadian medical system is slandered as being inferior by US politicians, trying to make ‘political hay’. I used to work 3 to 4 months per year in the US before retirement, and was regularly quizzed about our system by my American clients and friends. Nearly all of them knew stories of Americans whose lives had been compromised and even ruined, by staggering debts from their medical system.

    Thank you for returning to us in your blog. Please take lots of time to recover – we’ll survive if there isn’t quite as much activity here, for a while…!

    (Response: I’ve always been aware on trans-Atlantic crossings, you are …for three days or so … totally out of reach of land, and even when close enough by chopper, the possible problems of what kind of health care you may encounter. But I will still cruise … when I feel well enough to do so. h.o.)

  25. RIsaak says:

    Wow great to hear you are still with us, many are not as fortunate.

    My wife has been in a remarkable 6 year cancer battle, she’s outlived her prognosis by almost 200% to the surprise of all the medical professionals, this is due to well focused care and her resilient personality.

    Cleanliness, we have many of the same thoughts on sanitation as you’ve seen. Our observations after 12 different hospital stays, the days immediately preceeding accreditation inspections are by far the best to be sick or admitted on. The times between the announced inspections are far from as sanitary as the times around inspections, this fact is disconcerting. 75% of the food was unsatisfactory enough to turn me into a food courier, my wife is not a very picky eater either. No comment about cold, rubber toast?

    Watching the food service prep in Richmond (kitchen right across from 2nd floor lab) has revealed much about the food, most of which is just reheated from my observations.

    In my wife’s case we have seen her admitted for a plethora of issues to a few different hospitals (due to surgeon and OR availability) and engaged with many doctors of various specialties. The patients with critical, life threatening illness from what I’ve seen are mostly dealt with very quickly and with utmost attention, the only folks I ever witnessed complaining were the ones without life threatening disease and often the ones who only were there for a few days.

    Home care is another complete issue, the increased funding, change to private contractors and chaos which has resulted is nothing like the talking points used by the PM when he announced increased funding for these services, actually the downward spiral has increased which has been compounded by the management of the contractor and their continual disregard for commitments they themselves have made in writing before the privatization began.

    Glad you’re still here, this blog is one of the best around and the ringleader is a MC we do not wish to lose. Happy convalescence, get yourself back in form, we are all cheering for you in our home!

    (Response: Thankfully, the cardiac department had an area with a fridge and microwave where patents (and staff) could store/reheat foods. May seem like a minor issue to healthy people, but when you’re sick, very weak and confined to a ward 24 hours a day, for two, three weeks or more, I think the food should/could better actually assist recovery…and little additional costs. h.o.)

  26. Crankypants says:

    This was not the type of posting I expected.

    I’m happy to hear that you are on the road to recovery’

    My experience, a few years back, at Royal Columbian Hospital was similar in the food and cleanliness departments. I found the public washroom on the main floor was much cleaner than the one I was supposed to use.

  27. e.a.f. says:

    How wonderful to wake up this after noon, turn on the computer and there was your blog up with comments. Ah, Harvey it is so good to have you back!

  28. Diverdarren says:

    Glad you’re back Harvey. I’m glad that your story leans more to the positive than not.

    Hospitals, surgery, a month in a recovery ward, lousy food… I hate hospitals; stuff of nightmares. Your description brings that smell of disinfectant and sick right in my nose.

    Speedy recovery Harvey, and BTW next time you decide to go on investigate assignment of the healthcare system, doest mean you should have a heart attach for authentic reporting. 😉

    (Response: Much prefer investigating cruising various lines and ports! h.o)

  29. Dave in PG says:

    Glad to see you are back. Everything in moderation now, pizza with friends should never end. Take care.

    (Response: Dave was a neighbour briefly on the ward. Hope you’re doing well …and back helping/teaching bear awareness! h.o)

  30. Fiona Dalton says:

    Dear Mr Oberfeld,
    My name is Fiona Dalton and I am new in post as CEO at Providence Health Care, responsible for St Paul’s Hospital. Thank you so much for your kind words about the cardiac team – I know that they will be delighted to read your description of their service. Thank you also for your helpful feedback about the food and housekeeping services. I will make sure that these are discussed internally with our contracted services partners, in order to consider how we could improve.
    With all my best wishes for your continued recovery,

    (Response: Many thanks. As I wrote, I really believe the medical staff (ALL of them) at Ward 5-A and 5-B …and several other departments as well … were absolutely terrific … day, nights, weekends …saved my life. But food and cleaning: clearly room for improvement …without breaking the bank. Maybe a good idea to do more spot checks around ward beds away from the door … often not done or very quickly brushed over; and may I suggest spot checks on what passes for tuna, chicken or salmon sandwiches … far too often almost nothing between the slices…hardly a main course! And then there’s the Pollock…. don’t get me going again! 🙂 h.o.)

  31. BMCQ says:

    Hello Harvey

    Just like everyone else that follows “Keeping It Real” I am very thrilled that you were able to get back to Vancouver for your Treatments!

    I am quite sure there is no place like home when one is in need of Medical Care and Family Support.

    It is Great News to hear that all appears to have gone well with your procedures and you are now into Full Recovery and I am sure many more years of Good Health!

    It is more than obvious that you have the support of thousands out in the Blogosphere and I am quite sure that Family Friends, and former Co-Workers are all very relieved to see you on the mend.

    BTW Harvey, A Great Essay and Analysis of your experience, it is insightful, informative, and at the same time it offers us all MANY THINGS to think about.


    Fiona Dalton

    I thank you for taking interest in Harvey’s experience with the B.C. Medical System and St. Paul’s Hospital, I happened to be born there myself.

    I think it is very important that you also chose to Post publicly, to me it shows transparency, interest, and it also shows you are listening and that is important to everyone in B.C..

    Everyone that reads this Blog should be thankful you have taken the time to comment publicly!


    Seeing as we are all still here I would like to suggest that when St. Paul’s is relocated to Main St. YOU and the Province consider maintaining and re commissioning the Newer wing of the current St. Pauls Building for an ER Trauma Centre and Ambulance Paramedic Satellite Hospital that would serve the Downtown Core as an ER Centre and temporary Hospital before moving Patients to the Main St. Location. The structure is sound and easily converted into an ER Centre. to me it makes common sense and it is really an answer to those that have concerns with access to the new Hospital. With the Population of Downtown West growing each and every month it should not even be a question as to whether it makes sense.

    I would also suggest that the Province step in and dictate that the two Viaducts remain in place as there is no quicker way to transport ER patients from Downtown West to the upcoming new St. Pauls.

    The Public would be behind all of this and let’s be honest, it is the Public that Pays the Taxes that make all of this possible.


    I must say that I find it rather odd how the Usual Suspects seem to have a need to “Politicize” this very important Story.

    Not everything is the fault of Stephen Harper, Gordon Campbell, Christie Clark, or Donald Trump.


    Welcome Back Harvey!!

    Keep up the Good Work!!

  32. Island Lookout says:


    Holy Doodle Batman! I had trouble believing what you’ve just filed. Good grief.

    When I was an ink-stained wretch back in the old days reporting on deaths of the famous, infamous, and the ordinary was an everyday experience; no big deal.

    But as I got older life seemed to be akin an aircraft flight, the beginning, the middle (PNR-point of no return) and the landing. Ah the landing. That is when your life, the plane, runs out of runway, comes to a halt, then the engines shut down.

    Silence. The end…

    At what part of this flight through life are any of us “in”?

    We don’t know until we do, or don’t. It depends on the circumstances, consequences, either intended or otherwise.

    I’m also 73 years old, last Friday, in fact, a War Baby.

    I believe I’m somewhere approaching that landing pattern but just not exactly knowing how far off, Need to check the charts, but not just now.

    But there’s lots of traffic out there, some of it fat, rumpled and grumpy, others skinny, bored with their stupid Tilley Hats, and many more just merrily going along to get along or whatever and liking the trip.

    The Air Traffic Controller up there will eventually clear us all to land and that will be that, pretty much.

    Harvey, you’re getting better, not in the landing pattern, I hope.

    Looks like you have a chance to crank up the power settings a few notches and change course to yonder nice scenery, because it’s CAVU (Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited) out there.

    Take care former rival.

    We all here really do need you. Yep.

    Just keep your landing gear and flaps retracted, and the rest of it in proper trim. That makes for longer range with less fuel burn.

  33. e.a.f. says:

    uke, hospital food hasn’t been the same since they privitized it and the food is “made” outside the hospital and then shipped in, re heated and served. yikes, you’ll never get better on hospital food. I can however recommend the best of the worst and that is ask for the diabetic diet. It actually is much better than the rest of the food. If you really need to recover nurtrition is a major part of that. In our family, we make sure food is brought in each day and that includes fresh fruit, etc. You do have to be careful though, you need to stay within the diatairy restrictions which have been placed on the patient, but bringing in the food is always best, if its quality food.

    Part of the problem with hospital food its brought in by a contractor who is interested in profit. therefore you can’t expect them not to make a profit and to make a profit, well we all know how that works.

    Sometimes the food is brought in from a far distance, i.e. the food at Nanaimo hospital is brought in from a food factory in Richmond.

    child poverty exists because parents don’t make enough money. at one time working in food services in a hospital was a decent paying job. those jobs are gone and the only thing in the mind of the private corp is to make a profit, not that I blame them. However, if food services were brought back into hospitals with staff who worked for the hospital and decent wages paid, who knows it might improve the economy. Paying people low wages in food factories does not a vibrant economy make. It just makes poor families.

  34. scrottie says:

    Glad to see you still alive and kicking.Take care of yourself and I hope that you have a speedy and uneventful recovery.

  35. nonconfidencevote says:

    Harvey .
    Glad to here your recovering the “dodged bullet”.
    Slow and easy wins the race.

    @#31 BMCQ
    “Not everything is the fault of Stephen Harper, Gordon Campbell, Christie Clark, or Donald Trump….”
    It isn’t? 🙂

  36. BMCQ says:

    Then again it could be the fault of “The Russians”!

  37. Jay Jones says:

    Hope to see you and Canada’s political community back to doing great things for the country sometime real soon.

    Is really surprising and disappointing to learn that the building isn’t kept spotless from top to bottom at all times. Cleanliness is of course next to godliness.

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