The family of a Winnipeg senior is calling for changes after they say she was left waiting for over a week on a stretcher in a hospital emergency room.
After a fall in her home left her unable to move around, Helen Gorlick was brought to the Grace Hospital by ambulance on Oct. 17.
The 89-year-old was taken to the ER, where she waited about 18 hours to be seen by a doctor and a further eight days before she was transferred to Misericordia Health Centre for rehabilitation, her family said.
During that time, Gorlick was confined to her stretcher, unable to get up or use the bathroom on her own. A curtain served as her only privacy during most of her stay, said the family.
“It’s very sad to see our elderly being pushed to the side like that and left,” said the woman’s daughter-in-law, Heather den Boer.
She seemed “a lot smaller in her bed than she normally is in real life, and I think it’s just because she’s lost a lot of her strength. She’s lost a little bit of her spirit.”
Helen’s son, Alan Gorlick, says doctors and other hospital staff were apologetic about the situation, but were unable to change it.
“The care she was given by the staff was amazing, but you could see that the halls of the ER were lined with a lot of elderly patients, makeshift beds in the halls. And the staff, basically, you could see them being overworked,” he said.
At least seven other seniors were in the same position as Helen, said the family.
“When I walked through the Grace on Tuesday, just to walk in past the main desk, beyond the doors, there’s very elderly patients lying in bed calling for help,” said den Boer.
She worries that the long wait for rehabilitation care means Helen will have additional health concerns, including bed sores and a longer recovery time due to losing muscle strength from being bed-bound.
“I think that rehab really needs to start as soon as possible when someone’s had a fall like that, especially if there are no fractures.”
Hope NDP will put ‘money behind their promises’
Helen’s family hopes she can now get proper rehabilitation care, but also want the newly elected provincial government to make changes.
“I think that there needs to be more emphasis placed on actual patient care and reducing wait times for patient care, whether it’s surgery, post-op, emergent care, senior care — especially because these people can’t languish in hallways waiting for someplace to go while they’re hopefully trying to get home again,” said den Boer.
“That’s my hope for the NDP government, that they will put their money behind their promises during the election [campaign] and make it worthwhile for the Manitobans that elected them.”
On Thursday, Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara said it is “concerning” to hear what families are going through in hospitals.
“It’s unacceptable, quite frankly. And we know, I know, that health-care workers are doing their absolute best to provide the care that they know Manitobans deserve. But obviously, the conditions are incredibly challenging,” said Asagwara.
“We didn’t get to this place in health care overnight. It’s going to take us some time to start moving things in the right direction, but we are taking steps.”
The health minister praised families who are speaking up for their loved ones by reaching out to the appropriate levels of government and hospital systems to share their concerns.
“If you have concerns, we are listening … we want to hear from you,” they said.
“But ultimately, the way that we’re going to address this big challenge right now is by working together. And so we’re asking all Manitobans, health-care workers primarily, especially, to work with us so that we can address these issues.”
Featured VideoA Winnipeg man says it’s unacceptable that his mother had to wait on a stretcher in the Grace Hospital’s emergency department for over eight days, waiting to be transferred to another hospital for care.
Seyyed Hafeez Hashmi, a multi-faceted individual whose diverse expertise spans the realms of journalism, literature, media, and digital innovation. With a rich tapestry of skills and accomplishments, Seyyed Hafeez Hashmi embodies the essence of a prolific author, seasoned journalist, anchor, analyst, graphics designer, social media influencer, and the visionary force behind several impactful platforms.