You hear about how it on the news all the time, how Canada’s health care system is constantly letting down the very people it is supposed to serve. Just before my father’s own adventures in a hospital emergency ward in my home town, I must confess, when I watched a news story one night about a family here in the Lower Mainland complaining about how their elderly mother hadn’t really had anything to eat in five days because her scheduled surgery kept getting postponed, I didn’t give it much more attention other than a fleeting moment of sympathy for her and her family. But now it’s become personal and my sister and I are left feeling just as helpless and frustrated as all these other “faceless” people in the news.
Emergency Room – What Emergency Room?
In the space of one week my dad was in and out of hospital three times. The third time he was admitted to emergency, they kept him there. When my sister took him to the hospital Friday morning (time #3), there were no beds, so he was parked out in a hallway until a doctor could see him. When I called her at 8:30 pacific, 10:30 central, for an update, my sister was still waiting for a doctor to assess my dad so that they could proceed with a course of treatment. He was still “resting” in the hallway.
One day goes by before he’s wheeled into a room to be examined by a doctor. Tests are ordered. But once he’s back from X-Ray, he’s left in the hallway again. My sister is beyond frustration. Later in the day, she reaches the temperature at which paper burns when the emergency ward runs out of food. They kept promising more meals were arriving. But by 7 p.m. my sister lost all patience and went off to the cafeteria to get something for him to eat.
Life is Like That
On Monday, they found room for Dad in a back room in the emergency room. While still technically not a bed, it was at least out of the hallway. After the tests came back, the doctor still wasn’t sure what was wrong. But it was decided to transfer him to a geriatric hospital where there were specialized physio and occupational therapies available to make him stronger. Now it’s a waiting game to see if he becomes well enough to return home.