The waiting game of health care

In late December, Bill Nannings of Hazelton went to the hospital with significant chest pains, flu like symptoms and a dry harsh cough, wife Mary explained.

In late December, Bill Nannings of Hazelton went to the hospital with significant chest pains, flu like symptoms and a dry harsh cough, wife Mary explained.

He was sent home with medication for indigestion. The following day, things had not improved so they returned to the Wrinch Memorial emergency room where he was once again treated for the same thing. By 5 p.m. the following day he was taken back to the ER with a fast and irregular pulse and still complaining of chest pain. He was finally admitted but treated only for his heart condition to the dismay of his wife. On day four, they scheduled a CAT scan in Terrace and had asked Mary to drive her husband even though they said he was considered “high risk” which she refused to do. Day five he was discharged and sent home only to return the following day with more heart irregularities but was once again, sent home the following day. This back and forth continued for weeks, Mary explained and she was fearing her husband may not be alive in the morning. Almost four weeks later, Bill was once again taken to the ER and finally after his daughter and wife’s persistence was booked an appointment with a specialist in Terrace. To their “shock and surprise” the doctor informed them it was quite obvious Bill had a collapsed lung which showed up on the CAT scan four weeks previously but somehow was missed. Finally with a diagnosis that explained so much, Bill was told to get to St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver as soon as possible. That was on Jan. 24. However as of press time on Monday, he still had not been sent to Vancouver due to a shortage of beds and no available flights.

It is this last issue in the long standing problems that has both Mary and Bill concerned the most.

“It basically means I am not important,” Bill said adding that he had an appointment with a specialist doctor booked for Monday which he evidently wouldn’t be making.

The frustrations this couple is experiencing is not uncommon in the North it seems and MLA Doug Donaldson said it is a going concern for him and he is well aware of the many current problems surrounding medical issues in the North.

“I think what Bill is going through is totally unacceptable,” he said. “The [government] decided to move specialists away from the small communities with the assurance that when someone needed one, the beds would be available and so would the transportation. But that is not the case. It’s not just his situation, the system is broken.”

In addition to the lack of beds or means to get there, there are many reasons this is a big problem, Donaldson explained.

“Bill had a great point,” he said. “He has been lying there waiting for a bed for over a week and the cost of his being there and the costs to the health care system is thousands of dollars. Where, if he had been sent down right away, there is a good chance he could be home recovering right now. There are some complex things that are wrong in our health care system but there are also some easier ones and I think what is happening with Bill is just the tip of the iceberg. There are lots of stories like this out there but we don’t hear about them so I think it is great that people like Bill and Mary are making the calls.”

While Bill hopes to get things on track this week and get the help he not only needs but is entitled to, there will be other cases like this Donaldson said.

“The whole situation is wrong on multiple levels,” he stated. “It’s wrong from the health care perspective, human decency and economically.”

In closing Bill and Mary wanted to get the message out to people to stand up for their rights and their health even if you have to fight to be heard.