A woman battling bowel cancer who had been told she would have to wait months for a critical scan now will have to wait just a few hours.
As well, Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest health authority has reacted to Sylvia Letournel’s case by ordering a review of every patient waiting for an MRI, to ensure no one else has been wrongly scheduled.
"I want to be here for my family and my son and my grandchildren. I don't want to die," said Sylvia Letournel, a Fortune resident who was told her MRI — which will dermine whether her bowel cancer is operable — could not be done until June.
'In fact, this situation should not have happened.'—Eastern Health statement on Sylvia Letournel's case
Eastern Health, which has since moved Letournel's MRI appointment to Thursday, said the original wait time was "totally unacceptable ... In fact, this situation should not have happened."
In a statement to CBC News, Eastern Health said it is reviewing its MRI wait lists to make sure no other patient is in the same position.
"As a result of this case, Eastern Health is now undertaking a review to look at its wait time list and wait time processes to ensure that patients requiring immediate MRIs get them within an appropriate time frame," the authority said.
Health Minister Susan Sullivan said she wants answers from Eastern Health.
"I have ... directed Eastern Health to take a look at that," Sullivan said. "We're looking at now some measures that we may be able to put in place, and I've asked them to report back to me over the next couple of weeks."
Letournel had already waited 11 months for the colonoscopy that determined that she has cancer.
Her son, Jamie Hillier, said his mother's doctor was surprised by how long she was told she would have had to wait.
"I went in with her and he said you should be a month, two months maximum waiting, and you may get in earlier," Hillier said.
Letournel said the initial wait time had only compounded her health crisis.
"It's really scary knowing that I have cancer, knowing that cancer is there, and I can't get an MRI to determine how big it is or if it can come out," said Letournel, who added that there is a history of bowel cancer in her family.
"It may not be able to come out, it may be gone too far," she said. "It's terrible to have to live with this every day."