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Attention is needed to improve health care in Manitoba

Today, I write about a family who have been affected by the changes in our health care system.  The family wishes to remain anonymous but wants to make sure that there are lessons learned to improve our health care system.  The following is a first-hand account of their experience.

On Sunday, October 22, an elderly woman living in the south east part of Winnipeg was found by her home care nurse to be doing poorly at an a.m. visit.   The nurse called her son to come and help with the care of his mother.   On arrival it was obvious that her health had rapidly deteriorated.   His first thought was to take her to Victoria Hospital which is five minutes from her home, but he knew the Emergency Room was recently closed.  He looked at his mother, seeing that only two days ago she was lively, walking and energetic, now she was responding very little while laying on the couch.  She could not get up on her own and he would not be able to lift her into his car.  The only possibility for help was to call an ambulance.  They dialed 911. 

A few minutes later the ambulance arrived.  The paramedics quickly brought the stretcher into her room; they checked his mother quickly to assess her pulse and breathing.  The son told the paramedics that his mother had a serious heart condition and an implanted defibrillator.  The family requested that she be taken to the St. Boniface Hospital but the paramedics explained that they would have to take her to Grace Hospital due to the closure of the Victoria Hospital Emergency Room.

It seemed odd to him that they would not take his mother to the St. Boniface Hospital which was much closer.  St. Boniface Hospital also has the expertise in advanced cardiac care, so it also seemed logical to take her there.  But no, he was told, the WRHA instructions were very clear - she must go to the Grace Hospital.  The paramedics used rules implemented since the closure of the Victoria Hospital Emergency Room to make the decision that they had to take her to the Grace Hospital even though it was much further away than St. Boniface Hospital.
  
His mother was taken by stretcher to the ambulance, and proceeded to the Grace Hospital.  Her son arrived at the Grace Hospital shortly after.   When he requested to see his mother, he was told the bad news.  The ER physician advised that his mother's heart stopped in the ambulance and they got it started, but her heart stopped again as she arrived at the ER and they were not able to get it started again.

The family is concerned that their mother might still be alive if she had been taken to St. Boniface Hospital which is much closer and which is fully able to deal with very complicated and serious heart conditions.  They are also concerned that what happened to their mother might happen to others.

The family wants the province to investigate what happened to their mother to fully understand the decisions made by the paramedics that morning, and to see whether changes need to be made to current protocols so that lives can be saved in the future. Paramedics should be able to make the judgement call when dealing with such serious health conditions and the possible damage that can happen to the patient. 

Comments

  1. Once again the WHRA rules appear to thwart patient care - how terribly sad that the decision making process wasn't done by those at the site, but by those in the tower. Condolences to the family.

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