Canada

Parking lot not close enough for B.C. hospital staff

Kelowna man who drove unconscious man to parking lot of local hospital told to call 911 and wait outside for an ambulance to show up.

A Kelowna man who drove an unconscious man to the parking lot of his local hospital couldn't believe his ears when medical staff told him to call 911 and wait for an ambulance.

Ralph Vogel and his wife had been letting a homeless man sleep in their motor home, but became alarmed when they couldn't wake him Wednesday morning.

So Vogel powered up the motor home and drove the man to the Kelowna General Hospital.

He ran inside and told medical staff that a man was either dying or dead in his motor home.

When staff told him to call 911 and wait for an ambulance, he told them that the man was just outside in the parking lot. He was still told to call 911.

By the time the ambulance arrived, it was much too late. The man had already been dead for several hours.

The hospital now admits that staff made a mistake by refusing to treat the man in the parking lot, just in case there was a chance he could still be saved.

This isn't the first time Kelowna General Hospital staff have refused to treat someone just outside their doors. Three years ago, a woman who collapsed just metres away from the emergency room doors also had to wait for an ambulance.

Alison Paine of the Interior Health Authority says policy changes have been made since that embarrassing incident. But she said the policy's conditions for helping someone in need of emergency care were not fulfilled in this case.

"It is not only [hospital] policy, but Interior Health policy, that if somebody is in need of emergency care in the parking lot, that we go out and help them," Paine said.

"But obviously something has gone wrong here."

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