Woman slams lack of 'compassion and care' after grandmother spends 2 days in hospital hallway
WRHA says 10-day spike in influenza cases created backlog in emergency departments
Manitoba must stop putting "value for money" ahead of compassion in the health-care system, a Winnipeg woman says after her 97-year-old grandmother spent two days in a Grace Hospital hallway.
Sara Atnikov slammed Premier Brian Pallister and the Progressive Conservatives over their decision to close emergency rooms in the city but the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority blamed the backlog on a recent surge in cases of influenza.
Atnikov's grandmother Christine Heddes, who lives with Alzheimer's disease, fell down Sunday and was taken to the Grace Hospital. Atnikov said staff did everything they could to help her but the hospital had no bed for her.
"That's why my grandma had been in the hallway — is that they were so backed up. They kept receiving people but there was no space for them," she said.
Seeing her grandmother in the hospital hallway, along with five other seniors, was hard for Atnikov.
"She just looked so small and she was hurting and she's confused and she just wanted to sleep most of the time. It was a pretty tough experience," Atnikov said.
She was hurting and she's confused and she just wanted to sleep most of the time. It was a pretty tough experience.- Sara Atnikov
She said the closure of the Victoria Hospital emergency room and the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre have increased pressure on other hospitals, and she points the finger straight at Pallister.
"He's looking at things dollars and cents-wise. He doesn't take into consideration the human aspect, the compassion and the care," she said.
In an email statement, a WRHA spokesperson said the last 10 days have seen a spike in the number of influenza cases, creating a backlog in Winnipeg hospitals.
"We are aware of this situation and regret the inconvenience this has caused for a number of patients at the Grace. All patients in the department, regardless of where in the department they were receiving care, continued to be monitored and receive the necessary, timely care," the spokesperson wrote.
The statement goes on to say the opening of the new emergency department at the Grace Hospital, expected to be complete in spring 2018, will allow the hospital to accommodate more patients.
"Going forward, emergency departments will continue to have surges in volume from time to time that may challenge our system but the shifts we are making to our services are being put in place to best position us to accommodate those surges and provide the best possible care to patients," the spokesperson wrote.
Closures causing congestion
Manitoba Nurses Union president Sandi Mowat also says the Victoria and Misericordia closures are causing congestion at other facilities in the city.
"I've heard stories about all three facilities getting twice the ambulances they usually get, and overcrowding and many patients — and the wait times being longer and sometimes not as advertised on the wait time board. So there's been lots of concerns like that."
This is not the first time concerns about the Grace Hospital being over capacity have been raised. In September, a nurse at the hospital told CBC her clinical teaching medical unit consistently operated over capacity, which she worried put patients' safety at risk.
Last month, a woman complained after her 82-year-old mother waited on a stretcher in a packed waiting room for eight hours because there were no beds.
The province announced that they will stagger the closures of the other two emergency rooms slated to shut down at Seven Oaks and Concordia hospitals.
Heddes is still in hospital, but not in hallway anymore. Atnikov is not sure what will happen next for her but hopes as the province moves forward with more changes they'll take one more thing into consideration: "Whatever Excel spreadsheet is being used to figure out, there's a column for the compassion and the care that's missing," she said.
With files from Meagan Fiddler