New Brunswick

Moncton woman lodges complaint about nursing care during 'nightmare' hospital stay

Patty Musgrave, who has osteoarthritis, has had four joint replacement surgeries since 2013 and has seen nursing care for patients at the Moncton Hospital go steadily downhill.

Care at Moncton Hospital leaves patient with big bed sore, and bigger worries about shortage of nurses

Patty Musgrave is calling for improvements to staffing at the Moncton Hospital after spending three days recovering on the sixth floor after knee replacement surgery. (Vanessa Blanch/CBC)

Patty Musgrave, who has osteoarthritis, has had four joint replacement surgeries since 2013 and has seen nursing care for patients at the Moncton Hospital go steadily downhill.

Musgrave lodged a complaint after having her knee replaced in April and spending three days in a hospital bed "at the mercy" of health care workers on the sixth floor.

"Moncton Hospital orthopedic floor is a nightmare. Plain and simple," she wrote in her letter of complaint.

I've come home with a renewed realization that we are understaffed in our hospitals and it is turning caregivers into really nasty people.- Patty Musgrave

During her latest hospital visit, Musgrave found herself hesitating to ask the nurses for help with going to the bathroom or for pain medication because their reaction made her feel as though she was "bothering them."

"As far as pain goes, I probably let it go longer because I didn't want to press that button. And when they come around the corner and they look at you — it's like I did something wrong. And I'm 54."

Musgrave said the frustration of nurses every time she and her elderly roommate called for help was evident.

"At one point upon calling for pain meds, one nurse offered me this information. 'I am really busy and can't be running back here over and over. I've not even had supper yet.'"

Musgrave said her roommate, who had been a patient on the sixth floor for weeks, looked over and told her, "That's what it's like here."

"I felt, like, 'Wow, I'm sure you didn't become a nurse to treat me like this.'"

Patients try to co-ordinate bed pan calls

Musgrave said while she had no trouble speaking up for herself during her short stay, she was troubled by the way her 74-year-old roommate was treated.

"She was too afraid to press the button. Sometimes I would press it for her because she was crying. She was in a lot of pain and when she needed the bed pan she was scared to call for it."

Musgrave said the nurses were so obviously overwhelmed, that she and her roommate "had to co-ordinate our bed pan needs."

For her, the other thing that was "really awful" was that she came home with a "huge bedsore," which had never happened before.

"When you're using a bed pan, sometimes you miss," Musgrave laughed. "So the bed had gotten wet. I told a nurse, she put a soaker pad over the wet sheet … I ended up having three soaker pads underneath me."

Her hospital bed was never changed, and she was not able to wash, until a friend who is a home care worker came to visit on her second day in the hospital.

It was her friend who helped her out of bed, washed her, treated her bedsore and changed the sheets.

Patty Musgrave developed a bedsore during a three-day stay at the Moncton Hospital. This photo shows the sore three days after she returned home, and extramural nurses started caring for her. (Submitted by Patty Musgrave)

"She went and asked for sheets and clean items and was told where to go get them but not offered any assistance whatsoever. So then she changed my bed and got everything dried and got that sore looked at."

Musgrave said the bedsore has since healed, thanks to the extramural nurses who visited her at home every two days to treat it.

"I've come home with a renewed realization that we are understaffed in our hospitals and it is turning caregivers into really nasty people."

Moncton Hospital responds

Musgrave recently heard back from the nurse manager and the patient advocate at the Moncton Hospital.

She was told that there had been a staff meeting about her letter of complaint and that nurses were checking on her 74-year-old former roommate as Musgrave had requested.

"I really hope my roommate is being cared for in a good way and considering her only family is an elderly brother, I hope she is getting the care she deserves," she wrote in her letter.

Musgrave was also told by the nurse manager that according to her medical chart, everything looked fine and there was no record of her asking to talk to a doctor about pain relief, something she said the nurse refused.

Geri Geldart, vice-president of clinical services for Horizon Health Network, has apologized to Patty Musgrave and has followed up with staff on the sixth floor of the Moncton Hospital. (CBC)

No one from the Horizon Health Network was willing to do an interview about Musgrave's concerns, but vice-president Geri Geldart did send a written statement.

"We sincerely apologize for her negative experience during her stay. We have followed up directly with the staff who provided care, and we will utilize the feedback she shared to improve our care and services moving forward."

'What's happening to our nursing staff?'

Since returning home to recover, Musgrave has had a lot of time to reflect on her hospital stay.

"What's happening to our nursing staff on that floor? Why are they so overwhelmed?"

She is calling on the Moncton Hospital to hire a nurse practitioner or hospitalist for the sixth floor. A hospitalist is a doctor who is dedicated to caring for patients in the hospital.

The Horizon Health Network, which includes the Moncton Hospital, is the second largest health authority in Atlantic Canada. It includes 12 hospitals, has 13,000 employees and an annual budget of $1.2 billion. (CBC)

"If we had a hospitalist or even a nurse practitioner on that floor, I don't think we'd have the issues that we do because they would be able to take over the day-to-day management or case management of each patient."

Instead of nurses spending time trying to reach already busy surgeons, Musgrave argues the dedicated hospitalist or nurse practitioner could make adjustments to care and medication quickly.

"So there's no big delay. The nurses aren't going to have to take time from care of the patients to make 50 phone calls to the doctor to get that changed, this changed, whatever," she said.

"Take some of the work off the nurses so that they can be the personality they set out to be instead of this overwhelmed person."


Vanessa Blanch is a reporter based in Moncton. She has worked across the country for CBC for more than 20 years. If you have story ideas to share please email:


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