The head of Ontario's neurologists said Thursday there is a lack of emergency care for brain trauma patients in the province but the government is doing little to remedy the situation.
In an exclusive interview with CBC News, Dr. Edwin Klimek, president of The Association of Ontario Neurologists, said many patients who go to hospitals requiring emergency care for brain or head trauma are either not getting care soon enough or they are being sent to the U.S.
"I don't know what the problem is — lack of intensive care unit beds, lack of operating rooms, but certainly the infrastructural support is inadequate," said Klimek.
He estimates that the country loses more than $100 million a year as patients are shuttled to hospitals across the border.
Klimek has been writing letters to both the federal and provincial governments for a number of years, but has seen little action.
Last year there were about 50 out-of-province transfers for neurosurgery, compared with 150 the previous year. But that is cold comfort to people like Emanuele Giunta, who is planning to take his father Giuseppe, who already was treated in Buffalo, back there for rehabilitation. He said the waiting list is too long in Ontario.
Giunta said the nightmare started last October when his father went to the emergency room in St. Catharines with a headache and vomiting. A scan revealed a brain bleed.
But because that hospital did not have neurosurgery facilities, he was sent to Buffalo 12 hours later. Only 11 hospitals in the province have such facilities.
In the two weeks that Giunta's father was in Buffalo, 12 other families were there from Ontario.
Giunta believes a return to Buffalo is the best option for his ailing father.
"I have faith," he said. "I believe that miracles happen."