PC MLA says her Nana 'deserved better' than 5-day ER stay

The PC MLA for Queens-Shelburne, Kim Masland, brought her grandmother's story to the floor of the Nova Scotia Legislature Wednesday to highlight how hospital overcrowding is affecting Nova Scotian families such as hers.

Kim Masland says 84-year-old grandmother shared ER examining room with contagious patient

MLA Kim Masland with her grandmother, Pauline Brown. (Adam Masland)

As an opposition MLA, Kim Masland has brought a variety of concerns to the floor of the Nova Scotia Legislature. Like her Progressive Conservative colleagues, she has used the personal experiences of her constituents to try to demonstrate how political issues affect real-life Nova Scotians.

During Wednesday's question period, Masland got personal, bringing up the story of Pauline Brown, who she said "deserved better" from Nova Scotia's health-care system.

Brown isn't a constituent. She's Masland's grandmother, her "Nana."

Paramedics took Brown from her home to the South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater on Tuesday because she was having so much trouble breathing.

Masland dropped by for a visit on Friday and was surprised to be told Brown was in the Emergency Department.

"It was absolute mayhem in the [emergency department] … that day," she said. "Extremely busy, backlogs, nurses and doctors just run off their feet.

"I was extremely frustrated and concerned."

Left on gurney for 5 days

According to Masland, instead of being in a hospital room, her 84-year-old grandmother was in an examination room with another patient, a makeshift curtain between them.

"Instead of being admitted to a hospital room with a bed, she was left on a gurney in an emergency exam room for an unbelievable five days," she told the health minister in relaying the story during question period.

"To add insult to injury, the only washroom facility available was an emergency room public washroom down a long corridor where this elderly patient was required to walk in a johnny shirt," she told him.

Masland was also worried about the proximity of the other patient, who was being tended to by staff wearing surgical masks.

"I asked the nurse, 'Why are you wearing a mask?' And she said, 'Because of the contagious condition of the other patient.' And there's my grandmother laying on a gurney, shoved again a wall," said Masland.

'We need to talk about this'

Speaking to a reporter after question period, Masland said she had debated whether to bring that story to the floor of the legislature and decided it was something the public should be aware of.

"It was very difficult today to stand up and talk about my Nana. You know what, there are so many other Nanas out there that are in the same situation and we need to talk about this."

Premier Stephen McNeil was asked if Brown had been treated in an acceptable manner.

"That situation, as she described it on the floor of the House — of course not."

Brown was released from hospital late Tuesday afternoon and is back home — much to the relief of her granddaughter.