A Mount Pearl couple has it that their daughter’s experience-seeking medical treatment for her COVID-19 symptoms unearths weak links within the provincial health system.
Elizabeth Noseworthy stated her daughter, Erin, waited for more than 3 hours in a St. John’s hospital parking lot before getting a medical assessment.
“Three and a half hours sitting in a car, in the winter, with COVID-19, unable to keep your eyes open, busting to use the bathroom with no options — only sit there and wait — is not acceptable,” said Elizabeth Noseworthy.
“Our premier says that they’re prepared for COVID and for incoming cases. I think the ball is being dropped.”
Noseworthy said Erin, a teacher at Mount Pearl Senior High, considered group zero of the recent B117 variant outbreak in the metro region, was diagnosed with COVID-19 on February 16 when she got a phone call from public health.
The individual on the phone told Erin that someone would follow up with her every five days and her a phone number to call if she had any other queries or concerns.
“From the 16th to this day, no one has contacted her from public health.… To this day, no one has called her back,” Noseworthy said.
“She did have concerns about her health. Given that she has underlying medical health issues and she is immunocompromised, some concerns did arise.”
After failing to reach anyone with public health, Noseworthy said, her daughter called 811, and a clerk directed her to the Health Sciences Centre.
She was registered with the emergency department over the phone from the parking lot, but she was not admitted until over 3 hours later.
“I really don’t feel this is acceptable,” Noseworthy said. “I don’t fault the emergency department; what I fault is the setup of the system that is not prepared for people like her coming in for treatment.… She doesn’t need to go on a ventilator, but she needed assistance.”
Her daughter believes she would have waited even longer had she not called some politicians, pleading for assistance. When she was finally attended, she was diagnosed with pneumonia, and she was sent home to rest.
Hospital stormed with COVID patients
Eastern Health told CBC News in an emailed statement that the Health Sciences Centre fought with high volumes of COVID-19 patients on Tuesday.
“As these patients must isolate away from other patients in the waiting room and there were times when all negative pressure rooms were in use or being cleaned, there were instances where some patients were asked to wait in their vehicles,” the statement said.
“All patients were triaged and seen appropriately based on the severity of their condition. It is critically important that COVID-19 positive patients do not expose other vulnerable patients, staff and physicians while they are awaiting treatment.…Patients who were asked to wait in their vehicles were provided a telephone number to call if their condition changed or worsened.”
Noseworthy, a farmer nurse, says someone should have been sent to check her daughter’s vitals. Had they done so, chances are she would have been prioritized, she stated.
“If you could see how sick our daughter is and wasn’t admitted into the hospital, you would have to wonder, how darn sick do you have to be to be in there?” she said.
The ordeal was all the evidence the Noseworthys required to decide Newfoundland and Labrador’s hospitals are not prepared to handle an influx of COVID patients.
“I hope no one else has to have such a stressful day as we had, just not getting care that they need,” Noseworthy said.
“It was a long, long day, probably the most traumatic day that I’ve had in my life.”