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Medical mayhem

Dealing with our health care system really sucks the life out of a person!

Our grandmother was suddenly - and prematurely - discharged from the hospital. The hospital called late last week and said she was being discharged the next day - we said "whoa, back the bus up here...um, what?!!" We've been visiting her every single day and had certainly seen no evidence she was ready to come home. But, the Halifax hospital said they were releasing her because the resources could be put to better use (i.e. patients in worse condition), but also said her home hospital was not cooperating with their request for a respite bed, so they had no choice but to discharge her. The nurse said it was up to us to take her or not, but "if it were my grandmother, I wouldn't want to see her sent home alone". Obviously neither did we, but the best we could manage was to convince them to keep her until Sunday so we could get a bedroom ready for her at my sister's house.

Feeling that we were sandbagged, I wrote a letter on behalf of my sister and I outlining our serious concerns and how we'd been pressured into agreeing to Gram's release in spite of believing that she was not ready. We signed it and sent it to the hospital's Patient Representative - and I faxed copies to the Pres. & CEO of the Health District, to Grammie's family doc, to the Provincial Minister of Health, and to three different Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs - Provincial Government reps - for Gram's district, as well as my sister's and mine). No messing around here, I was in serious "go big or stay home" mode!!

Well apparently the letter hit the fan fairly quickly.

Almost immediately after I faxed the copies, my sister's MLA called to offer his support, and said if we encounter any obstacles or need pressure applied, to call him immediately...but that he'd wait a couple days to allow the medical recipients to respond. Well done, him! (Of all the names, he was the one I'd said in advance would be the first to answer the call.) This MLA is also going to discuss it with my MLA (they are both the same political party, unfortunately not the one currently in power though).

A couple hours later, Grammie's family doctor called to explain that she was discharged basically because of a pissing match (well ok, his words were "communication gap") between the two hospitals. The doctor at the Halifax hospital was in surgery all the time and said he was too busy to make any phone calls, so had the nurse practicioner make the calls. The doctor at the home hospital wouldn't act without speaking to the doctor at the Halifax hospital...apparently speaking to a nurse practictioner was beneath him. Gram's family doctor was not best pleased to receive the letter, but said he was going to try to arrange a respite bed for her tomorrow. He'll try to call tomorrow evening and let us know how he makes out...but made sure to tell us that he's way too busy to be making all these phone calls - after all, he must do his rounds all day, go to the airport tomorrow between 5 and 6, get home and look after his horses, and then it will be 10pm and he doesn't want to be calling people that late in the evening...give me a break - Gram was booted out of the hospital due to his complete lack of effort in the first place, you'd think the least he could do would be to manage a phone call.

I'll keep you posted on whether or not he finds time between his travel plans and his horses to call and let us know if Gram can expect a decent level of health care...

Anyway, we are quite pleased with the results of the letter so far, so the moral of today's story is...walk softly and carry a big fax machine!!

Comments (5)

Good lord, what a nightmare! Good for you all to not just stand by; your grandmother is lucky to have you. Good luck with this.


That is a real nightmare! What happens to people, especially seniors, who have no advocates, no friends or family able to fight on their behalf?

I'm very proud that Canada has a great public health care system (thank you, Tommy Douglas!) BUT any system involving human beings has room for mistakes, over-sized egos, and stupid pissing matches.

It's just plain cruel and senseless -- and inefficient -- to kick out patients before they have somewhere else to go.

Thank God your grandma has you and your sister to stand up for her. I'll be watching for your update!


You are so wonderful to do this for your grandmother. I wish for people like you in my life, if I ever need an advocate to stand in for me.
Good for you!
Ciao ciao,

Anne, I am sooo sorry to hear that your family has to deal with all of this political medical crap. Your grandmother is lucky indeed to have you and your family watching out for her. I hope all goes well and she continues to get quality care. Take care of yourself.

Gees Louise! I'm so sorry you are having to go through this!

Enjoyed your Amaretto comment. :)

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