Montreal man suffering from 'excruciating' hip pain waits 9 hours for ambulance
'I'm pleading with you. I'm begging you,' Trevor Garland, 66, told Urgences-Santé dispatcher as he waited
After waking up with "excruciating" hip pain early last Wednesday morning, Trevor Garland called an ambulance.
Garland had hip replacement surgery earlier in the month, and his new hip was dislocated.
He was told by an Urgences-Santé dispatcher that there had been a number of recent cardiac arrests in Montreal and that he could be waiting a while.
It ended up taking eight more calls before an ambulance finally showed up at his home in Pierrefonds-Roxboro— nine hours after his first call, at 7:30 a.m.
Garland, 66, recalled telling the dispatcher at one point: "I'm in agony here. I'm pleading with you. I'm begging you."
Why do people have to suffer because the medical system is under-resourced in Quebec?- Trevor Garland
While he was waiting, Garland called his orthopedic surgeon, and the doctor immediately got a team together at St. Mary's Hospital to operate.
When Garland still hadn't arrived, the surgeon intervened to ensure Garland would get an ambulance.
"He said, 'I've never done this before, but I'm going to call. And he hung up with me, and the ambulance appeared 10 minutes later,'" Garland said.
In an interview by phone from his hospital bed following an emergency operation, Garland said he can understand that Urgences-Santé was dealing with other emergencies.
But, he said, patients with dislocated hips don't have any other way to get to the hospital because they have to be immobilized with special equipment.
"Why do people have to suffer because the medical system is under-resourced in Quebec?" he said.
Troubling case, says patients' rights advocate
Paul Brunet, who chairs Quebec's council for the protection of patients, said Garland's case is troubling, especially as the province's population ages.
"I cannot imagine myself seeing an elder waiting eight, nine hours down on the floor, wherever he or she is, for an ambulance. It doesn't make sense," he said.
He hopes Quebec's new health minister, Danielle McCann, will invest more money in health care to prevent patients from waiting for hours in pain.
In a statement, Urgences-Santé said paramedics try to respond as quickly as possible, "but since we have to work by priority, it can happen that a patient with a hip problem is waiting longer."
"That's unfortunate, and we do everything that we can to prevent this from happening," said Stéphane Smith, the service's chief of operations.
"We are currently working on possible solutions to reduce waiting times."
He said Urgences-Santé has a staffing shortage, and it recently launched a campaign to hire 200 more paramedics.
Trevor Garland tells his story. (Please note, he has a neurological impediment that affects his speech.)
With files from Lauren McCallum and Valeria Cori-Manocchio