Octogenarian spent 8 hours in emergency chair with broken back


A man from Outaouais claims that due to the lack of available beds, his 82-year-old mother spent eight hours in the emergency room, suffering from a back injury.

In the minds of those close to Géraldine Simard, the care received by the eldest is the direct consequence of the shortage of personnel which is wreaking havoc in hospitals in Western Quebec and the lack of available beds.

Michael Simard, his son, said even paramedics wondered if the family wanted to take him to the emergency room.

« I was wondering, why do they keep asking us this? And the reason was because of the waiting period, » he told Radio-Canada in English.

« We were told that [at the] Gatineau [Hospital]it’s six hours of waiting while you’re in the ambulance, on the stretcher, before you even get to the hospital. »

Instead, she was taken to Papineau Hospitalwhere she sat for hours on a reclined chair with broken back bones due to osteoporosis.

Géraldine Simard remained in the hospital from Tuesday to Thursday, having only received a real bed on the last day. Before that, his mother stayed in the halls of the hospital, Michael said.

Michael Simard’s mother is now at Wakefield Memorial Hospital. (Patrick Louiseize/Radio-Canada)

« I kept begging them that she didn’t deserve this, that at her age and after all she’s given to society, we should be able to treat our elderly people a little better than that, » said Michael.

On Friday, Geraldine was transferred to Wakefield Memorial Hospital, about a 50-minute drive from her home. While the family were delighted the 82-year-old was given a room, it’s been a difficult journey for her 92-year-old husband, who has only visited his wife once since his transfer.

She also had to spend more than a day wearing a dressing soiled with feces, Michael said, because none of the nurses had time to change it.

Abnormally high occupancy rate according to health officials

By email, the Outaouais Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS) said the occupancy rate was abnormally high when the woman visited the emergency room. He said transferring a person to another hospital is standard practice and is usually done with the patient’s consent.

But this explanation does not satisfy Outaouais Healthcare Professionals Union, a union of health workers in the region.

« It’s not something we like to see, » said union president Karine D’Auteuil in French.

D’Auteuil wants a law on patient-to-nurse ratios put in place and working conditions improved to support staff who are already stretched thin.

Paul Brunet, president of the Quebec Council for the Protection of Patients, agrees that something must be done.

« We are in crisis, » he said. « But unfortunately for the system, we were in a crisis of the summers [and holidays] before. »

Géraldine Simard had to wait eight hours on a reclining chair in an emergency room. (Submitted by Michael Simard)

Some said that fierce competition from Ontario has only increased staffing shortages in western Quebecwith better working conditions and pay driving away skilled workers.

But earlier this summer, several Ottawa-area hospitals closed their emergency departments due to understaffing and some said they may have to do it again.

The Quebec minister responsible for the Outaouais, Mathieu Lacombe, was not available for questions from Radio-Canada.

Michael Simard hopes that the head of the CAQ, François Legault, will listen to his calls to improve the health system. He said his mother needed better care now, not in two years.

“My biggest concern is for the people who are stuck in the hospital, in [Papineau] and Gatineau in the hallway, in an emergency with no emergency button to press,” he said. “Who will speak for them? Who will be their spokesperson if they have no family? »


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