New Brunswick

Moncton Hospital cancels nine elective surgeries at last minute

Debra Chant had an IV next to her and was mentally prepared for hip surgery on Thursday when a doctor told her the surgery was cancelled, one of nine operations that didn't go ahead because of a high occupancy rate at the hospital.

One patient learned hour before scheduled hip operation that it wasn't going ahead

Debra Chant has had to wait 17 months since her first doctor's visit for a hip replacement. (Submitted by Debra Chant)

Debra Chant had an IV next to her and was mentally prepared for hip surgery on Thursday when a doctor told her the surgery was cancelled. Chant arrived at the Moncton Hospital at 7 a.m., but was told two hours later that she would have to reschedule. 

"I'm sitting here today thinking I should be recovering," said Chant. "I was very disappointed in the outcome of course because you gear yourself up to have this done and nothing happens."

Chant said her surgery was scheduled for 10 a.m., but at 9 a.m. her doctor told her her it was cancelled. 

The hospital's chief of staff, Dr. Ken Gillespie, said Monday that the hospital cancelled elective surgeries that day because the hospital occupancy rate was at 103.6 per cent, and it was putting pressure on the emergency department.

A total of nine elective surgeries were cancelled to make sure things could keep functioning in the emergency department , where 20 patients were awaiting admission, said Gillespie in an emailed statement.

"Unfortunately, it is occasionally necessary to prioritize the provision of emergency medical services over other elective medical or surgical functions."

Gillespie said that as of Sunday, the hospital was down to an occupancy rate of 92.6 per cent.

Rescheduling

Chant, 65, had been waiting for the surgery for about 17 months, all the while living with pain in her hip. 

"I can't go anywhere where I need to walk," she said. "I could probably walk to the end of my street and back, but I used to walk half hour to an hour a day."

She had rented a walker and a raised seat for her toilet so she would be prepared for the recovery. Chant also had to mentally prepare herself for the surgery. 

"It's a big surgery. I was very nervous and I had calmed myself down to the point where I was ready to have it done," said Chant.

Chant said that according to her doctor, she likely won't be able to get back in for surgery until December, which would cancel her plans to visit family during the holidays.

"I was so looking forward to being able to get out and go and continue to sightsee and tour around and actually be able to walk without having to sit every two minutes," the Moncton woman said.

Chant said she likely won't be rescheduled for surgery until December. (CBC)

Chant said she's worried this will continue to be a problem as she gets older, and may need to go to the hospital more. 

"As an aging senior, it doesn't look like the health system is going to be there to help us, and if that's the case what's it going to be like for our children," said Chant.

Chant wants to know why, if there wasn't room for her at the hospital, she wasn't told further ahead of time. 

"If there's no beds in the hospital, there's no beds in the hospital. That doesn't occur within an hour," said Chant.

"You had all these people scheduled for this surgery who were already en route to the hospital or on their way to the hospital, so why was it that this was cancelled on such short notice?"

About the Author

Philip Drost is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.

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