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Two Red Deerians talk about long waits they faced getting hospital care

One woman waited five-plus hours in ER with a ruptured appendix
Milt Williams, of Red Deer, said he was in such pain while waiting for knee surgery that he opted for a private operation in Montreal. But he feels for those who can’t afford this and yet can’t get timely relief at Red Deer hospital. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Two Red Deerians who faced long, gruelling waits for health care services were among those attending a town hall meeting about Red Deer hospital deficiencies on Wednesday.

Hearing about all the shortages plaguing the main health care facility for some 470,000 people living in Central Zone left Diane Adkins feeling “devastated.”

Adkins recounted waiting in Red Deer hospital’s emergency room for five hours and 20 minutes last December, after being referred to ER by a walk-in clinic doctor who suspected she had a ruptured appendix.

“Extreme” pain was radiating across her abdomen the whole time, said Adkins, who described almost passing out during her wait.

After arriving at the hospital at 2:45 p.m., she was finally seen by an ER physician at 7:30 p.m.

By 9:30, tests confirmed Adkins had a ruptured appendix, which resulted in her 10-day hospital stay for IV antibiotic treatment.

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During this stay, she was moved between hospital rooms four times, as staff juggled patients to be able to free up beds for others who needed them.

Milt Williams, of Red Deer, was on a two-year wait for knee replacement surgery for his right knee when his left knee began to “act up,” causing him more pain than his right one. After a year of waiting, he said he still couldn’t get moved further up the list.

Feeling his mobility severely restricted, and his quality of life impacted, Williams recalled the pain was affecting his mental health. And he was already struggling with the recent deaths of his wife and son.

After much consideration and some misgivings, the retired teacher decided to use some of his savings to pay for knee surgery at a private clinic in Montreal.

Oddly enough, he said a Red Deer surgeon flew to Montreal to perform this surgery, but due to the Canada Health Act, couldn’t for some reason do it closer to home.

Williams feels sorry for others who are still waiting for hip and knee surgeries who don’t have the means to pay for private operations, and so continue to live in pain.

“It makes it hard to talk to people about this… what do you say when they tell you they’ve already been waiting 18 months?” said Williams, who wishes the health system would treat people more holistically, considering their mental state as well as physical afflictions.

“It hurts the heart” to know so many people who need help aren’t getting it, he added.

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan, who also attended Wednesday’s town hall meeting held by SHECA (Society for Hospital Expansion in Central Alberta) blamed Alberta Health Services for not responding better to the health care needs of central Albertans.

“AHS should have a (hospital) transition plan now. Why are we paying them?” said Stephan.

Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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