What started out as a simple injury turned into something much worse, says Greg Poirier.

Poirier, 64, hurt his leg and foot when he fell down the stairs into his basement suite late Thursday night. He managed to drag himself into his apartment where he called a taxi to come pick him up.

He said he then made his way to the emergency ward at the University of Alberta Hospital, where he waited over four hours to be treated.

He said when he finally made it in, he was given painkillers and two nurses attempted to bandage his leg.

By then, he said, the pain in his foot was excruciating.

"I said: ‘Girls, I appreciate your help but it’s not helping — it’s just making it more painful’ — five minutes later I was released."

Poirier then took a taxi home. When he arrived, he was forced to crawl to his door and back down the stairs. When he finally made it inside, he collapsed on the couch and fell asleep.

Soon after he woke up, his phone rang. A woman who Poirier believes may have been a U of A hospital manager was calling.

"She didn’t announce her name but she was extremely angry. She said ‘you shouldn’t have been released... you have to return to the hospital.’"

Although he was tempted to ignore the call, or go elsewhere, Poirier phoned Blue Cross and requested an ambulance to take him back to the hospital.

Back to the hospital

Once there, he said he had to wait another five hours in triage before seeing a doctor.

Poirier said he felt instant relief the moment hospital staff removed the original bandage they had wrapped around his leg.

He was then wheeled into the operating room, where doctors installed a plate along the broken bone in his leg that he said hospital staff failed to tell him about during his previous visit.

Poirier is now recovering at a rehab hospital.  He said the experience has thoroughly shaken his faith in the province’s health care system.

When they were contacted for comment, Alberta Health Services said this type of situation does happen occasionally — but stresses people shouldn't worry about going into city emergency rooms.   "Obviously this gentleman is upset with the care he received, and we do have avenues he can pursue if he so wishes," said Kerry Williamson, a spokesperson for AHS. "We [also] have a Patient Relations department."

Williamson said Poirier’s poor experience was not the result of budget cuts — a fact he finds little comfort in.

He is now recommending people steer clear of the U of A Hospital.

"I’m not coming here [again]," he said. "Just the odd chance this could happen again... I'll never forget the look of absolute not caring."