FOGO ISLAND, N.L. — A Fogo Island resident is deeply frustrated after his wife was turned away from acute care, and instead told to take an ambulance to Gander.
Dealing with bronchitis and lung pain from multiple tumours, Stephanie Holmes and her husband Ryan rushed to the emergency room area of the Fogo Island Health Centre, Friday morning, Jan. 11.
Ryan says the acute beds at the centre were all in use by long-term patients, and his wife was subsequently brought into the minor procedure room with a portable oxygen machine to help give her air.
“There’s no way my wife can be put in ambulance and brought to Gander. The conditions on our road are like a washboard and she’s in severe lung pain. It’d kill her."
— Ryan Homes
They were then told they would have to go by ambulance and ferry to James Paton Memorial Health Care Centre in Gander.
“There’s no way my wife can be put in ambulance and brought to Gander,” said Ryan. “The conditions on our road are like a washboard and she’s in severe lung pain. It’d kill her.
“The doctor told me that ideally she should be kept here under surveillance and in a bed but they can’t physically take her right now.”
Stephanie was recently released from St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital Hospital in St. John’s after a lung biopsy. As of Friday afternoon, the pair decided to return home rather than travel to the hospital in Gander.
Fogo Island Mayor Wayne Collins said this is not the first time the health centre has been at maximum capacity.
“I can relate, going back four or five years ago when there was not enough beds in both acute care and long-term care and my mother was sent to Gander,” said Collins. “It’s an ongoing thing we’ve had to deal with, and it’s not because of space. The health centre is big enough for more beds.
“The reason being is, once you increase the numbers of beds you have to increase the staff. It’s again another cost-cutting measure on part of government.”
Collins says the town council will continue to bring up this issue to Central Health, as the population of the area is aging and these medical issues may become more frequent.
"It’s tough to leave and go to Gander when you know the space is there for two beds where there’s only one."
— Wayne Collins, Fogo Island Mayor
“I can understand the frustration and where individuals like Ryan are coming from,” he said. “It’s tough to leave and go to Gander when you know the space is there for two beds where there’s only one.
“It’s disturbing to say the least.”
Ryan says the nurses and doctors were working compassionately to deal with the packed health care centre on Friday. He agrees with the mayor that poor management is to blame for their issue.
Central Health were contacted for comment but did not respond by deadline.
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