Grandmother spends days on a stretcher while waiting for care in hospital
Ruth Riggan spent a week sleeping on stretcher wedged between a closet and a sink at an Edmonton hospital.
Updated: Wed Jul. 13 2011 17:34:39
A grandmother suffering from heart failure spent seven days on a stretcher while waiting for care in an Edmonton hospital. Ruth Riggan spent a week sleeping on stretcher wedged between a closet and a sink at the hospital.
Sleeping on a stretcher for days was the last thing she expected after arriving at the hospital for heart and liver failure.
Initially, she spend the first few nights in the emergency room, before moving to an acute care bed, but she was eventually asked to move.
"I unhappily moved to a stretcher thinking it was a short term thing. I ended up being there for 7 days and 6 nights on a stretcher," said Riggan.
And she wasn't alone. Her floor had 26 beds, but 38 patients.
"There are over capacity protocols that are in place so people can get into the ER, see a doctor see and nurse as soon as possible," said Andy Weiler, Alberta Health spokesperson.
The province says the over capacity protocol is to address a back-up and long wait times in the ER, moving patients into acute care beds.
But critics say this case is proof the system is in need of more beds.
"Unless you actually increase capacity of active treatment beds, long term care beds then you are just moving the problem around in circles," said David Eggen with Friends of Medicare.
The province says there are instances when patients cannot access a bed.
"There are pressures on the system and sometimes people cannot access a bed, they are accessing a stretcher -- maybe not the most optimal place but the fact is they are still receiving the care that they need," said Weiler.
The government has created a five-year health action plan that it says does include more beds. But critics worry the beds may never come.
"They developed a five-year plan, which is only as good at the next election," said Eggen.
And if that is the case, Riggan hopes more people speak out.
"I think it's time to step up and the let the provincial government know as taxpayers and people of this province you're not fooling anybody anymore," she said.
Riggan wanted to make it clear that the nursing staff and those taking care of her were excellent, but she believed the system is failing them.
While spending time on the stretcher, Riggan did contact the health minister's office, who contacted patient services on her behalf. Patient services explained Riggan had reached criteria to not be in an acute care bed, but not the criteria to leave the hospital.
With files from Kevin Armstrong