An Antigonish woman is speaking out about her mother's last night alive, spent in a flooded Victoria General Hospital. 

Mariah MacDonald, 25, was with her terminally ill mother as water started gushing from the ceiling one day in September. 

"There were a few things in the hospital that we thought were strange – as small as public bathrooms running out of hand soap, to something as big as not being able to use the tap water to brush your teeth," MacDonald wrote in a blog post.

"Our experience seemed to be as normally painful as a health emergency could be – until we were robbed of our last night with our mom."

MacDonald's blog post describes a "disorganized" evacuation of patients during the flood September 24, 2015. Two floors of the Halifax hospital were left unusable and since then, the provincial government has said it is working on a plan to replace the building.

"The building is falling apart and we all know that," MacDonald said in an interview with CBC News. 

Throughout the flood, MacDonald said she struggled to get her mother care. 

Sudden terminal cancer diagnosis

Her mother, Darlene MacDonald was diagnosed with terminal cancer this summer after going to the doctor about a sore back. By the time it was discovered, it had spread from her lungs to her lymph nodes, kidneys and spine. She was given a month to live.

She relied on high flow oxygen, puffers and other medication to breathe and anti-nausea medicine to move around. 

But that day in September, the 55-year-old felt like herself. She cracked jokes with visitors and seemed the most alert in weeks.

"Everybody that came in was sad to see her and they would leave laughing that day," MacDonald said.

Most of the family left to pick up pizza, planning to spend the evening gathered around her bed.

MacDonald family

The MacDonald family's plans to spend the evening of Sept. 24 together were cut short because of the flood. (Submitted by Mariah MacDonald)

Water gushed like rain

That's when MacDonald heard gushing water, like a heavy rain.


This was the view from MacDonald's room when the flood began. (Submitted by Mariah MacDonald)

"I looked out the window and there was nothing there," MacDonald said. 

Brown, murky water leached in from the hallway — and poured from the ceiling across the hall on the fifth floor, MacDonald told the nurse.

"She immediately stopped taking my mom's vitals and she left," MacDonald said. 

That was the last time a nurse cared for her mother for hours, she said.  

'Everybody forgets about her'

MacDonald's mother asked where they were headed when the evacuations started.

"The head nurse replied strongly and loudly, 'This is an emergency. You might be put in the hallway for all I know'," MacDonald said in her blog post. "The reply made my mother even more anxious to the point where she just shut her eyes."

It took around two hours for her mother to get all her medications.

Darcy MacDonald and Darlene MacDonald

The last photo taken of Darlene MacDonald is this selfie with her son Darcy MacDonald, 27, taken Sept. 12. (Submitted by Mariah MacDonald)

"I was left by myself to look after my mom. I was basically harassing for high flow oxygen and her medication," she said. 

Eventually MacDonald's mother was moved to a private room in the bone marrow transplant unit. Her nurses weren't familiar with her chart and didn't realize she was a palliative patient, MacDonald said.

The next day her mother died.

"The night before she passes away, everybody forgets about her," MacDonald said.