Pregnant woman turned away from Montague hospital told ER at capacity

An Island woman is complaining about being turned away from the Kings County Memorial Hospital ER, after she was told the hospital was at capacity.

'They took all my vitals … and they just sent me home after'

Kennedy de Vries was told the ER at Kings County Memorial Hospital was full. The Department of Health says 60 patients, like de Vries, have been re-directed from the ER in Montague since July 1. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

An Island woman is complaining about being turned away from the Kings County Memorial Hospital, after she was told the emergency room was at capacity. 

Kennedy de Vries, of Cardigan, is expecting a baby in February. She had cramps after work Monday night, and went to the ER in Montague but was told it was full.

"They took all my vitals … and they just sent me home after."

Before leaving she received a letter from the hospital. It stated that capacity was full, and that she could make a doctor's appointment, come back to the hospital at another time, or go home. 

This is one of a number of new rules Health PEI put in place July 1 to try to cut back on closures of the ER due to doctor shortages.

Health Minister Robert Mitchell said ER staff are allowed to re-direct non-life-threatening cases after 7 p.m. Patients are advised to come back the next day, or go to another hospital.

2 closures despite changes

Mitchell said 60 patients, like de Vries, have been re-directed from the ER in Montague since July 1.

Health Minister Robert Mitchell says the province will conduct a review of how the system has worked at the ER this summer. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

As part of the changes that came into effect July 1, the hours at the ER were reduced by two hours a day, and extra time was added at a local walk-in clinic. 

"We know that in the last four months, our extended primary care has seen 160 patients which is very positive. That indicates that people are having their primary care needs met effectively," he said.

Since the changes came into effect, there have been two ER closures. 

PC MLA Stephen Myers, who represents Georgetown-St. Peters, said he wasn't happy with the decision to roll the hours back. 

He said he wants more funding for the ER, and eventually an entirely new hospital.

ER review

"Here we find out now that they're taking people in, only on capacity alone. That concerns me."

PC MLA Steven Myers says he wasn't happy to have the hours rolled back. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

He said nobody that he spoke with knew that there would be limited access. 

Mitchell said the province plans to review the emergency room changes at the end of the month.

He said they've recently filled one of two full-time positions for dedicated emergency department doctors at the hospital.

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With files from Brian Higgins