Ryan Gillies, here with three-year-old son Seth, suffered a heart attack last Friday. He had to wait four days to get a stent in Edmonton, a situation that must change, he says. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

Red Deer man says more cardiac care needed here

Ryan Gillies spent several extra days in hospital waiting to get a stent in Edmonton

It took an Edmonton doctor minutes to insert a stent into one of Ryan Gillies’ arteries.

Getting to that point, took almost four days.

Gillies’ unwelcome introduction to the gaps in Central Alberta health care began last Friday when a general discomfort similar to indigestion gave way to pain in his arm and a trip to Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s emergency unit.

Within minutes, he was whisked away and put into an intensive care bed and diagnosed with a heart attack. He would not leave Red Deer until Tuesday, when he was taken to Royal Alexandra Hospital to have the stent inserted.

Gillies said there has got to be a better way.

“When you to get (stent insertion) done it’s a 20-minute procedure,” said the Red Deer father-of-four.

While being cared for he heard stories from ambulance workers and Edmonton hospital staff about unsustainable workloads.

“If it’s that taxing on the staff why not open up a place in Red Deer to alleviate some of the pressure on those people?” he said.

Four others needing the same procedure were in Red Deer’s hospital with him last weekend, all taking up expensive hospital beds, waiting to be taken to Edmonton or Calgary.

“Four days I’m occupying that (intensive care unit) bed. I didn’t need to be in that bed.”

Gillies said being stuck in a bed in Red Deer for days was frustrating. His sleep was constantly interrupted as blood samples were drawn and other things checked.

“They probably would have done (the stent) if they had it in Red Deer that (Friday) evening,” he said. “I could have been home, probably, Sunday.

“Two days more of recovery time. Two days more to spend with my children.”

Central Alberta’s medical community is well aware of the region’s shortcomings. Local medical professionals have called on the province to develop comprehensive echocardiography, cardiac catheterization and angioplasty services in Red Deer’s hospital.

In 2016, local doctors reported that not being able to treat blocked arteries locally, and the long transfer times for the treatment elsewhere, mean Central Albertans have a 60 per cent higher rate of death or disability than people in Calgary or Edmonton.

After start-up costs, it would not cost any more to treat patients in Red Deer than it does in Calgary and Edmonton, and it would save on transportation costs, health care professionals argue.

Related: Unfair treatment

Hospital expansion

Gillies, 44, also believes the money that was spent keeping him in bed for Red Deer for extra days would be offset by the savings of having the treatment available locally.

“I’m pretty sure they could pay for it in no time,” said the construction consultant with a pipeline company.

Gillies’ wife, Erin, said since their scare they have heard from many people, directly or through Facebook, who have had similar experiences.

“Story upon story upon story. ‘This happened to my mum, this happened to my grandma …’

Nursing friends have also told her how overloaded Red Deer’s hospital is.

Both Gillies hope that by sharing their story the decision-makers will be convinced of the local need for more cardiac services.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Red Deer area businesses recognized at Business of the Year Awards night

“It’s an honour just to be nominated.” The popular words echoed throughout… Continue reading

Child sex offender should get 12 years: Crown prosecutor

Stuart Peter Hunt has pleaded guilty to 10 child sexual exploitation and pornography charges

Legalizing cannabis cost estimate for Red Deer just under $400k

Although the province of Alberta has announced $11.2 million for cannabis legalization,… Continue reading

WATCH: Every square tells a story: Edmonton expert is exploring Red Deer’s quilting history

Community members can bring in family heirloom quilts for documentation

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Film with Fan Bingbing, Bruce Willis cancelled after tax case

BEIJING — The director of “Air Strike,” featuring Chinese actress Fan Bingbing,… Continue reading

Michael Buble shuts down rumours of retirement from music

LOS ANGELES — Michael Buble is shutting down rumours that he’s going… Continue reading

After Canada legalizes pot, industry eyes rest of the world

MONTREAL — Cam Battley is a top executive at one of Canada’s… Continue reading

Facebook’s election ‘war room’ takes aim at fake information

MENLO PARK, Calif. — In an otherwise innocuous part of Facebook’s expansive… Continue reading

Military to overhaul morale-boosting trips after review finds serious problems

OTTAWA — Canada’s top general is overhauling military morale-boosting tours after an… Continue reading

Police hand out a few hefty fines for allegedly violating Cannabis Act

The celebratory mood that marked the legalization of recreational cannabis lost a… Continue reading

PHOTO: Say goodbye to City Hall Park flowers

A sure sign that winter is on its way is when City… Continue reading

PHOTO: Chew On This! campaign draws attention to national poverty

Lunch bags were being handed out in front of The Hub downtown… Continue reading

Most Read