FRENCHMAN’S COVE, N.L. — Joe Grandy is worried that he could die while waiting for a dye test.
While experiencing frequent and alarming shortness of breath, the 65-year-old Frenchman’s Cove man was told he would have to wait five to six months for the cardiac catheterization that detects heart problems.
Grandy has had a number of issues with his heart and lungs over the last two and a half decades. He’s had two heart attacks, a quadruple bypass surgery in 1996 and he has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
In January he started having issues breathing. Any amount of exercise was hard on his chest. He consulted a doctor who prescribed antibiotics for a lung issue. Grandy didn’t improve so he asked to see a specialist for a second opinion.
After failing a stress test, his doctor requested a dye test. That was back in April. Staff at the Health Sciences Center told him it would likely be September or October before he can get in for the test.
Grandy works on fish harvesting boats and is scheduled to go back to work next month.
“It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be stressful, just thinking about it, what could happen,” he said. “I would like to see the process get speeded up.
“In this day and age, you shouldn’t have to wait six months to get a simple procedure done. It’s like playing Russian roulette with my life. How many people have to die waiting to get in before they do something about it?”
Eastern Health response
The Southern Gazette received an email response from Eastern Health related to Joe Grandy’s concerns.
It stated, “Newfoundland and Labrador has one of the highest incidence of heart disease in Canada. Eastern Health’s cardiac catheterization laboratory (cath lab) provides essential quality care to patients, performing close to 6,000 cardiac procedures each year.
“A cardiac catheterization (also called “heart cath or “dye test”) is a procedure which is used to determine whether there are blockages in the arteries of the heart. Patients requiring this procedure will be referred to the cath lab at the Health Sciences Centre in St. Johns. Patient referrals are triaged and prioritized by a cardiologist based on their medical condition. Wait times for the cardiac catheterization lab vary according to patient condition and may change daily. This means that patients assessed as stable may have a longer wait time. The waitlist for cardiac catheterization is reviewed daily and updated as appropriate with priority given to higher acuity patients.
“If a patient has any concerns about their status or if at any time their medical condition changes while waiting for the procedure, the patient should bring this to the attention of their physician or visit an emergency department.
“Eastern Health works to ensure that all patients requiring this procedure are seen in a timely manner. The cardiac catheterization lab operates Monday –Friday and an on-call team is available after-hours and on weekends for emergency cases. Referring physicians may call the lab if they have any concerns about their patient's cardiac status or to discuss their treatment and priority with the on-call cardiologist. An on-call cardiologist is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to address any issues with any changes in a patient’s condition and to reprioritize their status.
“Eastern Health is currently looking at process improvements to improve access to the cardiac catheterization lab. In addition, in order to ensure patients are seen in a timely manner and to address the waitlist, Eastern Health will periodically operate additional cardiac catheterization appointments on weekends.
“Also, in November 2017, Eastern Health launched MyCCath, within its own facilities. MyCCath is a secured, web-based pilot IT solution for clinicians at the Health Sciences Centre, that aims to facilitate the referral process for Newfoundland and Labrador patients requiring cardiac catheterization laboratory services. Upon the completion of a successful pilot in May 2018, MyCCath is currently being implemented at the other three regional health authorities in the province. MyCCath aims to expedite referrals for procedures performed at Eastern Health’s cardiac catheterization laboratory.
“Eastern Health’s top priority is to provide safe, quality care. Patients, residents or loved-ones who have questions or concerns about their health care are encouraged to discuss them directly with their care team or management or contact Eastern Health’s Client Relations Office toll free at 1-877-444-1399 or via email at Client.Relations@easternhealth.ca. Eastern Health takes every inquiry seriously, and will make every effort to resolve a patient’s concerns.
“Due to the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA), Eastern Health is unable to publicly discuss any specifics regarding an individual patient’s care.”