Family demands answers after Nanaimo woman spends days in hospital hallway

The family of a woman from Nanaimo is demanding answers after she spent almost four days in a hospital hallway among dozens of other patients waiting for a bed.

The woman was initially rushed to the emergency room at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital last Friday for what turned out to be a brain bleed, and her son claims they spent much of the next few days trying to get updates.

Matt Tino says after the initial tests, scans, and diagnosis, his mother was rolled into a hallway.

“There were no beds available so they had her in the ER hallway along with probably 30 to 40 other patients. She was there for almost four days before they could finally move her into the hospital, proper. She was what they consider ‘unattached’ so she didn’t have a doctor on her case.” Tino told CityNews.

“She was able to see a doctor Friday evening in emergency and a doctor did come by on Saturday morning to see her briefly,” he explained. “It was a bridge doctor, not necessarily taking her case but visiting with all the unattached patients … she didn’t have a doctor who was taking on her case until day four.”

During that time, Tino says they were unable to get updates on his mother’s condition, and were told there were no doctors available.

“The nurses were doing the best job they could trying to keep her comfortable, keep her calm, but we just weren’t getting any information on if she was improving, if she was getting worse, or what was going on,” he said.

Tino adds that staying in the hallway also took a toll on his mom’s mental health.

“It just wasn’t helping with her blood pressure, which was an issue as well. She was not able to sleep more than maybe 45 minutes a night because of all the commotion. You’ve got patients overdosing in the same hallway, you’ve got COVID patients as well, apparently.”

Tino says he complained to Island Health and it wasn’t until Monday evening that she was admitted and transferred to a proper bed and into the care of a team of hospitalists to oversee further scans and her recovery.

The son of a woman from Nanaimo, Matt Tino, is demanding answers after she spent almost four days in a hospital hallway among dozens of other patients waiting for a bed.
The son of a woman from Nanaimo, Matt Tino, is demanding answers after she spent almost four days in a hospital hallway among dozens of other patients waiting for a bed. (CityNews Image)

Tino says it has been an extremely stressful time for the family as they have been advocating for her care non-stop, and he has spent the past few days contacting his MLA, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and other politicians to try to shine a spotlight on his mother’s case.

In a statement to CityNews, Island Health is offering an apology to the family, admitting there are challenges with crowding at NRGH and other hospitals across the province.

“It is always our goal to transfer patients requiring admission from the emergency department to an optimal care space as quickly as possible. Island Health acknowledges this patient received care in the emergency department for longer than what we strive for and we sincerely apologize for that experience,” stated the health authority, adding it has been in contact with both the family and leadership at NRGH.

Island Health insists it is “taking action to reduce hospital pressure in Nanaimo” by increasing staffing and that it has developed “a roster of physicians” to oversee the care of patients in the emergency department until they are attached to a hospitalist.

While it is unusual to comment on specific details about a patient’s care, the health authority said it wanted to clarify that a diagnostic scan was completed and reviewed within hours of Tino’s mother arriving at the hospital, and her care was managed by a physician and she was seen by a doctor every day.

Tino says that is news to him, and is wondering why the family only found out through a statement from Island Health.

“It was surprising to hear that a doctor had seen her on Sunday, as this information was not conveyed to us until Wednesday morning. Nurses mentioned she was unattached, and there was no doctor available on Sunday and Monday, although a doctor did see her in the evening on Monday,” he told CityNews in a subsequent statement Thursday.

“The healthcare experience my mother encountered is an unfortunate reflection of the concerning deficiencies our healthcare system faces in Nanaimo. I appreciate the efforts of the dedicated nurses and doctors at NRGH during these challenging times,” Tino said.

“However, attention from the provincial government to address Nanaimo’s healthcare issues is urgently needed. Severe doctor shortages, prolonged stays in emergency room hallways, and a single walk-in clinic for a city of over 100,000 people are simply unacceptable.”

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