The stories from patients and providers need to live somewhere - and we are prepared to give them a home. We need to support each other - and our healthcare workers as well.
We have received thousands of heart-wrenching submissions from across the province. Every day, we will attempt to review, cross-reference and publish a new series of untold stories. Share your story here.
I am a pharmacist working in Cumberland County. I have moved there recently due to the shortage of pharmacists being critical within the region. I have unfortunately heard of too many stories like yours to count. The government seems to believe that giving more responsibility to pharmacists without proper support is a solution. We are excited about the new opportunities to do more for patients, but we are short staffed as is and struggling to keep up with general pharmacy demand, let alone the extra tasks we have been given. We need to be given more resources to be able to successfully do what they are asking for, especially within rural areas. As one of the most - if not THE most accessible health care professions for the publi, we are taking on a lot of misplaced anger and frustration from patients with the healthcare system. I cannot think of the last day that I worked where there were more appreciative/nice patients than angry/abusive ones. I want to remind people that most healthcare professionals are extremely frustrated with this to. Especially in losing patients, family/friends everyday to this crisis and we are doing everything in our power including sacrificing our own health and well being to help others. I am very sorry for your loss. Change needs to happen now or it will just keep getting worse.
Steve - Cumberland
I went to the Emergency Room at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital at 8:30 a.m. on January 1st, 2023, after a severe allergic reaction - something I've never experienced before. I actually went to the pharmacy first in effort to avoid the ER and the pharmacist told me to go straight to the ER due to extensive swelling in my eyes, mouth, throat and tongue. I am not someone who goes to the hospital often, but the reaction was quite scary and I was having difficulty breathing. I was triaged immediately, and was told while the swelling and hives were serious, my heart rate and blood pressure were not within the range for anaphylaxis, so I likely would not be seen for 12+ hours because the waiting room was full and there were triage 2 chest pains who had been waiting over 10 hours without being seen. I was also told the wait would be so long that I should consider waiting at home for as long as I could and coming back. I didn't know what else to do, so I self-medicated with a double dosage of Benadryl, which did eventually help. While I was being triaged, someone in the waiting room collapsed on the floor. The triage nurse seemed very stressed and he was harassed by other patients in the waiting room. I ultimately left the ER without being seen, had to return later when the swelling worsened, and still was not seen. The whole situation was awful. The ER was clearly severely understaffed, the nurses were on edge and very stressed. It's not good when you worry about the mental health of the medical staff because of impossible working conditions. Given my experience, I am not at all surprised to hear about what happened to Ms. Snow. I'm so sorry to her family. We pay very high taxes in this area and that money should buy far better care that we are getting. It's a very scary feeling to be in a genuine medical emergency and have nowhere to turn. I hope someone at the Department of Health really takes the time to see and listen to these stories.
Jenn - Sydney
In August, I drove to the hospital as I was having severe indigestion and pains. When I arrived at the Hants Community Hospital around 8P, it was closed. No emergency department, no hospital it was CLOSED. I returned the next day around 1:30 PM only after my family begged me to. I was told that I had had a heart attack. This is not where it ends. After I was told that I need to go to the hospital in the city where they can help. So first my hospital wasn’t open and now that they are, I’m told they can not help and need to send me elsewhere. The Dr. told me it may take a couple hours for the transfer by ambulance or like the previous patient may take up to 5 DAYS. Luckily, I ONLY waited 18hrs. I was advised I could have someone drive m, but that it wasn’t a good idea as I could have trouble along the way but if it was going to be days of waiting for an ambulance then I may want to consider it. So 18 hours later off to the city I go, to be seen, admitted and fixed with a stent. I am alive yes -- but am scared for the next time. This government has the NSH employees worked to their max - it is a sad state of our healthcare system
Elizabeth - Windsor
I am only 22 years old. In 2018, I went to a nurse practitioner complaining of declining health. With every urine or blood test I was given a clean bill for the most part - or given reasons that wouldn’t solve my health issues. In 2020, I went to the ER for pancreatitis, and my practitioner had told my step mom that there was blood in my urine, so when I went to get bloodwork again I was to get a urine test as well, but when I went there the practitioner said I didn’t need a test now. Last year, my health began rapidly declining and I couldn’t stand or work without getting sick or being dizzy. I decided to go to the New Glasgow ER, where I was told I was dehydrated and I needed to drink more water -- and that my creatinine had been high because of this. I was sent home after being given fluids. A few days later, I visited my practitioner where she told me my blood pressure was high because I ate bad and I essentially needed to be healthier. Days after this, more bloodwork showed that my creatinine had actually risen again -- and my practitioner told me I probably had a kidney infection and sent me to a specialist. To my surprise, when I got there, he told me that I had stage 3 kidney disease and an immune disease that caused it. So since 2018, my bloodwork and urine tests were actually showing this, as well as my creatinine levels rising continuously. Even now, 5 years later, with a new kidney, it’s still likely my immune system disease will destroy the other one -- and all because it was caught so late. I will probably not have much longer with my kidneys now. I’m 22 and this is just the shortened story of the nightmare I’ve had with ERs in Nova Scotia.
Madison - Stellarton
On Dec 12th 2021, I was rushed to St. Catharine's hospital emergency by ambulance. My info was taken, and I was placed in a wheelchair in the waiting room around 9PM that night. I sat in the waiting room in full cardiac arrest until 430AM. Twice I passed out, and my husband thought I was dead. At some point, I received a shot of morphine. The result of this wait was no oxygen and blood to heart - also no blood and oxygen to brain. So a person with an almost photographic memory and a high IQ no longer knows where to find the waxed paper in the kitchen or cries when trying to unpack a suitcase because she doesn't remember where things go. I have seen a specialist who says it is not dementia or Alzheimer's and it's getting worse. They take no responsibility for their actions just excuses. I blame not only hospital admin, but also our provincial government who I think is pushing us toward privatized healthcare.
Jane - River Bay
I went to the ER 3 times and waited for over 5hrs each time to help with a persistent fever. Each time, I was dismissed and rushed out. After the 4th time of begging to be taken seriously after my health started to take a very dangerous turn, it was determined I had cancer in a late staging. Thankfully I was able to get the treatment I needed but I am certain I wouldn’t be alive if I were to have waited an extra 2 weeks or have been dismissed again.
Maher - Halifax
My mother went to Cobequid ER 3 times, only to be sent home each time. The first visits were over capacity and the thir time, she was handed a form and seen a doctor for 5 mins and presumed her case to be non life threatening. They told her she had superficial blood clots in legs, and didn’t put her on any blood thinners. She had a stroke 3 days later and her previous ovarian cancer was back. Super frustrating for our family. She is in hospital trying to recover from a stroke on top of a late stage cancer. The stroke may have been prevented if they took more serious matters into concern at the ER.
Danielle - Sackville
My wife was diagnosed with "mixed tissue" disease over a year and a half ago by our family doctor. They sent an immediate urgent referral to a rheumatologist. Since then her symptoms, (which included but are not limited to extreme fatigue, dry eye, dry mouth swelling of joints and digits,) have gotten progressively worse to the point she has had to resign from her job of 14 plus years as a teacher assistant with the local school district. She was originally told it would be a 6 month wait, then a year, now possibly another 6-9 months before getting in. Our family doctor has also sent in a referral to a rheumatologist in Halifax, but was told that would be a 4 year wait. Every day she sits home here waiting for the phone to ring, meanwhile her symptoms are getting progressively worse. It is very frustrating knowing there is nothing you can do for the one you love 😔
Jopseph - Halifax
I am angry, scared and sad right now and I don't know where to direct these emotions. For the purpose of this post I will leave out specific names. I will also acknowledge that my father had a sick heart, diabetes and age working against him at the start of this nightmare. It's so unfair that heredity can be so cruel to a person who never drank, smoked, abused drugs and took good care of himself. I will also say that no matter where you go in life, there are people that are AMAZING at their jobs, and there are people that are terrible. We have experienced both ends of that spectrum. The point of this post is the healthcare crisis. I was asked by a healthcare professional to "make some noise" about what we've witnessed, because their pleas aren't being heard. I will take this beyond Facebook, but let's be honest, social media can also be a powerful force in today's world. The reality is: 9 weeks ago, when we phoned an ambulance, we felt like we won the lottery because there was actually one available that arrived in a timely manner. This shouldn't even be a concern anyone should worry about in a life and death situation. Dad had a suspected 2nd heart attack (5 days prior) and deteriorating health throughout the week. On arrival at the hospital his troponin levels (found in the blood following a heart attack) were 2600. He, as I've learned since, had almost all the classic signs of heart failure. In fact, the Cardiac ICU told me that based on what I described, it should have been apparent just by looking at him. What happened instead was, dad sat on a stretcher in the emergency department for 5 (yes FIVE) days with no window, not being treated for heart failure, delusional, agitated and getting sicker by the minute. The emergency department was bulging at the seams with hospital admitted patients with no available beds. As I came in and out of there for days on end, the waiting room was jammed with people sitting on the floors. This isn't surprising to anyone, we see it daily on social media. My aunt was also an admitted patient in emergency the same week, so we literally ran between the two doing anything we could to help them. After the first 15 hour, the nurses didn't even realize my dad had a severe cardiac history. He wasn't even ordered something to eat and he's diabetic. I believe the ONLY reason he didn't get sent home to die is because the cardiologist had clearly read his history and consulted someone in Halifax to try anything they could to save him. In that time, I had nurses who had grown to know us, coming up with tears in their eyes telling me they were researching things on their break trying to figure out what they were missing. Admitting that some of our concerns weren't even being documented. After staying up through the night helping calm his delusions and keep him safe, I was hoping to sleep the next night. Instead, his nurse told me "I have an extremely heavy case load tonight. Feel free to stay and help me!" There was no way I was going home to sleep after that. I literally thought he was dying in front of me multiple times. After 5 days, a nurse stepped in to cover a shift and said "This man is in heart failure!" Treatment was started, troponin levels decreased, bloating went away, delusions cleared. He eventually spent 2 nights on Med A before going to Halifax. A nurse there (who I've grown to love) took one look at him and his file and said "You have every right to be extremely concerned". All of this happened because Halifax had no available beds. We don't know for sure if he'd have been in the same situation now, but every health care professional will admit that first week did him NO favours. I have SO much praise for CVICU staff in Halifax. However, spend two weeks next to a sedated loved one, and you overhear things. I heard the phone calls where patients needed surgery but ICU was full. Or calls to transfer sick patients back to their home hospital to free up space. They felt a tracheotomy might advance his recovery faster, but explained the supplies to do that the most efficient way were back-ordered. The supplies they use to clean/lubricate the mouth of a sedation patient were back ordered. When dad left CVICU and went to IMCU they had to close beds because they simply didn't have the staff to provide the care. I overheard them talking about where they could pull nurses from just to get through a shift. Unfortunately, dad's health deteriorated there as well. Our pleas that something was wrong were ignored for 2 days. When it turned bad fast, the ICU Dr. was busy and couldn't get there fast enough. The respiratory therapist was also busy and couldn't get there. I truly believe if my sister and I weren't there begging for help he would have died that day. He ended up in ICU again and received amazing care and went from being expected to die to making such huge improvements everyone was shocked. Unfortunately, they couldn't keep up that progress in ICU because sicker people needed the space. Back to IMCU. Things deteriorated SO fast again. We begged for a Dr. and were told no. We went personally to ICU and begged for one. We called patient complaints (they have a 48-72 hour return time). We asked for a social worker twice and he wasn't available either time. We asked for a Chaplain but they were tied up at the other hospital and not available until the following day. We fought an entire day and finally spoke to the unit manager for answers. One of our biggest concerns were that dad's sugars were out of control. The bottom line was, IV insulin can only be administered in ICU because they simply don't have the staff to provide the monitoring he needs to do that safely outside the ICU. He needed that to counteract the liquid feed he was on that had high sugar content to get him calories. Dad had to be restrained sometimes for his own protection. He also had a bedsore. I took note of the DRY stains on his fitted white bedsheet around the bed pad. A urinal beside him that he cannot reach while restrained. His voice was weak so you couldn't hear him say "I need to pee." I ended up undoing his restraints and giving him the urinal. We were told by IMCU he would take weeks to transfer back to Kentville and go to ICU. Absolutely floored when out of nowhere he was on the transfer list for Medical A in Kentville a few hours later (because they needed the bed in Halifax). Once in Kentville, we find out extremely important information wasn't passed along. It was a fight to get his insulin information. No communication regarding his bed sore. Come to find out it was horrific and I quote "exasperated by the fact he has clearly been left in his own soil!" Kentville wasn't even told he was on a special pressurized mattress due to the bedsore. Due to the trauma, sedation, diabetes, blood sugars, etc., his delirium has been horrific. He became a danger to himself and staff. There were 5 people ahead of him needing constant care and none is available. We had been frantically looking at outside agencies and managed to get 1 night covered so we could have a break. In his delirium he continually pulled his feeding tube out. We found out on a Friday night that the hospital had NONE available until Monday. Luckily, a box was located and we (family) made sure he wasn't left alone for a second until after Monday. It became physically impossible to have us with him every waking second and staffing levels don't allow them to be available either. Dad pulled his feeding tube out around 2pm last Wednesday when he was alone for maybe 15 minutes. His veins were so damaged they struggled and were unsuccessful at starting a new IV line. The decision was made to give his body a break for the night. We weren't thrilled at him getting no meds /food / fluids until morning, but felt he needed a break from poking and prodding. First thing in the morning his nurses had the tube in and x-rayed. But, the state of our healthcare, meant no Dr. was available to view the x-ray and clear it until 5:30PM. Then, they noticed it was kinked and the process started over. So, my dad had dangerously high sodium levels, dangerously high blood sugar levels, he was dehydrated, malnourished and literally begging us for food saying. But, because of our healthcare system, he did not receive his life saving medication, the fluids to flush his body and lower the sodium or nourishment for 30 hours. Not to mention, the nurses were too busy to change his open wounds with bandages hanging off until after supper time. It was all the most cruel and heartbreaking thing to watch and feel completely helpless. This past weekend I asked a staff I trust what do I do? Everyone in there is stretched to their breaking point. The individuals who are supposed to help you in these situations are so overwhelmed they can't keep up or deal with everything they are being faced with. When dad's blood sugars went to 32, the Dr. was too busy to address it immediately. Again, the nurses used their best judgement while waiting for him. What's the end result here... his heart stopped. He's back in ICU yet again. I told the Dr. just hours before that things weren't right. I am by no means a medical expert but I'm 2 for 2 at calling it when he wasn't okay. He had no cardiac events since surviving the surgery. We will never know if it stopped due to all the things not being controlled. Unfortunately both times the system failed him, and he ended up in ICU on deaths door. I know my dad isn't an isolated case. I see the system failing so many people. Most of those on the front lines are just as frustrated and scared as the public. They take the brunt of a system that is designed to fail right now. How many more loved ones are going to die before someone listens?
Melissa - Centreville
My dad was admitted to MVMH Emergency on Tuesday,Nov 15. He stayed there; on a gurney, overnight. The next morning he was sent to Dartmouth General where he stayed in Emergency Hall until the morning of Friday November 18 on the gurney. The Wednesday; I was able to go in and out every couple hours to check on him. They basically told me to go home around 3:00. On Thursday, I found a stool and quietly sat beside my Dad in the hall. At one point; his IV blew up his arm and I was the one who found it and got help. The hall was cold. On Thursday, there was a shortage of flannel blankets. On Friday morning, he finally got moved into the emergency overflow. He stayed there two days before getting a room. My dad is 89; and it took until he was upstairs to figure out his bladder was septic. Doctors came/ doctors went. No consistency. Nurses who were overwhelmed; did their best. I cannot imagine the people who are admitted that don’t have families to advocate for them.
Judy - Musquodoboit
In April 2021 I had to seek emergency medical services. I am a young fairly healthy 25 year old female. I run marathons, play sports, and work in the medical profession. I went to Cobequid Emergency for immense abdominal pain that I sat at home for 3 days before I decided to seek medical attention. They checked me for appendicitis and instead told me there was fluid in my abdomen. The doctor told me I had a hemorrhagic cyst that ruptured and not to worry as lots of women have cyst that rupture and the body will re absorb the fluid and the pain will subside. I saw a recommendation on the X-ray report was to follow up with ultrasound so I requested the ultrasound. During the ultra sound I had a couple doctors come in to look at the image and asked me if I had endometriosis, which I had no previous symptoms of this chronic condition so I said no. They sent a follow-up with a Gyne in 2 weeks and sent me on my way with Tylenol. Fast forward 2 days I was much worse sweating HR 130s temp 39, rushed back to Dartmouth emerg. I slept on a stretcher in the emergency room overnight as there was no bed to admit to and a septic work up initiated, a bolus, IV abx bloodwork. Turns out the fluid never absorbed and just stayed in my abdomen and became infected, a query abscess/tumour was seen on my previous scans at Cobequid which was never shared with me and now was larger than when I was at Cobequid. I was admitted in Dartmouth for 3 days. After feeling better on pain medication and IV antibiodics, I was sent home with a follow-up with gyne surgical team in 10 days. Very ambivalent to go home again but I did… not 3 days later I was very sick again, back to Halifax emerg where I begged for someone to please take me seriously. I asked for copies of all my scans in Dartmouth as I wanted to present them to someone to prove that something was wrong and to not be brushed off and sent home for the third time. Finally the gyne team from the IWK admitted me, I had immediate scans, blood work and cancer markers added to my work up as I have a history of cancer and heavy family history of cancer. I had to have surgery to drain the infection from my abdome. I stayed in The IWK for 6 days and they took great care of me. I was so relieved that finally someone was doing something and finally helped me get on the road to recovery. There was a lot of scarring and damage to my right ovary, the doctors discussed the possibility of a oophorectomy (ovary and fallopian removal) but luckily didn’t need to do so. I don’t know if that will impact my ability to conceive, I guess I’ll cross that road when I get there. My follow-up appt turned where they took biopsy’s during surgery ended up finding a tumour that they successfully removed during surgery.
Christine - Halifax
I witnessed a young woman, who was clearly in distress, in the emergency waiting room at Dartmouth general hospital in early 2022. She was vomiting, crying out in pain, and curled up under a blanket in a chair. She was alone, since all patients who had next of kin accompanying them, were asked to leave to make space in the crowded room. She was there for at least a couple hours before she was taken into an examination room. (I sat in the area that was reserved for people who had covid-19 symptoms even though I did not have covid.) I was at the emergency room due to chest pain. I was triaged and assessed within 15 minutes and was administered an ECG approximately 1 hour later. About 7 hours later I was put in an exam room where I received excellent assessment (waited about 1 hour) and sent home with no further complications. As I was leaving, there was a woman at the front door waiting for her mother to be admitted from an ambulance that was in a queue outside. She was visibly distressed and concerned because her mother was experiencing a life-threatening situation and was unsure about what she could do to support her mother and get updates. During the 8 hours I was in the emergency area, there was no access to water or snacks. The vending machine for water and soft drinks was out of order. At one point, a nurse in charge, addressed the waiting crowd to inform us that the emergency staff were doing the best they could to expedite care under a triage system. The entire staff were respectful, and patient and gave me excellent care and information despite the overwhelming workload they were facing. I am extremely grateful for their ongoing commitment to healthcare.
Beverley - Halifax
In March 2022, I experienced a bad fall in downtown Halifax that resulted in a head injury. I had a gash that was on the top of my head bleeding badly, and I got some help from the location I was at to call 911 for an ambulance. It wasn't long and they took me to ER, where I was admitted to the waiting area after being asked the typical questions they require, including that I was a Type 1 Diabetic for over 45 years. The sad part of my story was I was admitted into the "holding queue" as I call it, from 1AM to 5:30A, then placed back in the area awaiting stitches. They left me sitting on a long bench outside the treatment room for 3+ more hours alone. I had not one person check on me nor offer me a water etc. I had almost passed out a few times, so after so long I decided to leave as being a diabetic requires insulin and food, and I was exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open. I had no family to call to help me, so I took a taxi home for $25, and I fell asleep on a towel to prevent any blood stains from messing up my pillow. I went back 2 days later on a Monday morning at 10AM, and the nurse, who was great by the way, told me I should've waited the first time, as now after that time, the skin on my head had a ridge. I now feel like I have a canyon on my head to feel as a reminder of our sad healthcare system. Yes, I know I didn't die, but the difference it can be on the day of the week let alone the time of day on how fast you can be attended to and we know that the faster we treat an injury the better for all involved. If that was a cardiac arrest they state it on the news often it's priority ONE to get attention fast not waiting for hours, just to reflect on who gets service 1st over others. I truly wish there was a board on display stating where you stand in line and what others are awaiting on for their level of issue so we would at least know how long weneed to wait. This is twice now that I've left the downtown ER and the Cobequid location as well in the past 5 years over the slowness of everything. The more I think of how a paid service could speed things up, I am sure most would pay for faster attention rather than play the odds like a gambling site to hope they get the 3 sevens to win the services required. On a side note I have no idea why Cobequid and other ER's close at 12AM, they should all be 24/7 like the downtown. Thanks for listening. Live well and be kind to your neighbours.
Dean - Halifax
My father had a heart attack in June of 2022, just 3 days after his 57th birthday. We did everything we were suppose to do: called an ambulance, made him chew aspirin etc. Unfortunately, he went in to cardiac arrest while in the ambulance on the way to the CBRH. They got him back, but he kept going in to cardiac arrest and the biggest issue tis that the Regional Hospital does not offer stents to clear out blockage. As a result we had to wait hours for a life flight for him to get to Halifax to have his artery cleared but by that time, he was braindead. He would have survived if the hospital had somebody to put a stent in for him right away. The doctors and nurses were absolutely amazing, but it is clear they are all extremely over-worked and overwhelmed. We all deserve better.
Natasha - Little Bras D'or
In December of 2016, my mother was admitted to Soldiers Memorial Hospital for a broken hip. The next day, she was transferred to Valley Regional, where she underwent the repair of the fracture. 2 days later, she was transferred to Digby General for rehabilitation. She was there less than an hour, when taking a step to the bathroom with her walker, she felt sudden pain and was unable to walk. The next day, she was transferred back to Valley Regional where she underwent a revision repair. Over the next 2 months, she was ping-ponged back and forth between Soldiers Memorial and Valley Regional as her condition warranted. In late January of 2017, called Valley Regional to speak with my mom by phone and was informed 'there was no one here by that name'. You can imagine what I feared. I asked to be transferred to the surgical floor and was told there is no one here by that name. She had just been there the day before. Finally, someone recognized her name and said casually 'oh she was transferred to Middleton yesterday, you should have checked with the next of kin'. .. I AM the next of kin - and nobody notified me. I filed a complaint with the hospital, and I spoke with the head nurse who apologized profusely and vowed to make changes so it would never happen again. In March - less than 6 weeks later, my husband drove up to visit mom, as I was under the weather. He got to the surgical floor, and she was not there. Demanding to know where she was, he was furious to discover, once again, she had been sent to Middleton, with no notification to us. He left Kentville, driving to Middleton, while I was on the phone with Valley Regional. When I complained to the nurse who answered the phone that I was next of kin and should have been notified again, she brushed it off. My mother was upset...very upset...and she could not be calmed or comforted. Two days later, she suffered a massive heart attack and passed away the next day. A lack of compassion and caring is not a new symptom of this healthcare crisis. It is a lasting one with deep consequences.
Karen - Kingston
I called the ambulance to take my elderly uncle to the ER department because he was totally confused, which was new for him, he was hallucinating. They brought him into the ER in Sydney and called me to tell me that they were sending him back home around midnight by ambulance. I explained that he does not have anyone to be with him as he lives alone, and so I and asked if they could keep him at least until the AM. The nurse spoke with the physician and he was sent home by ambulanc anyway. Neither myself or his next of kin were notified that he had actually left the ER department. His next of kin called me in the AM and told me that my uncle was dropped off by the ambulance attendants and they did not put his help line around his neck (it was on the table as you come in with a note by it to put it on him). He fell out on the floor getting out if the bed (he recalls around 5 AM) but could not reach for a phone to call anyone. He laid there until Home Care came in the morning. They had to call for help to get inside the house. I went there around 8:30-9AM and he was lying on the floor with only his underwear on. I quickly put a warm blanket on him, and we called the ambulance so he could be assessed. The ER in Glace Bay was closed at the time this happened, which put a huge burden on the CB Regional Hospital.
Arlene - Glace Bay
I went into the ER on December 1st and waited 11 hours and left without seeing a doctor. I have AFIB (irregular heart beat). I wasn't feeling well for several hours before going in. When I went in, I felt nauseated and my blood pressure was very high and the AFIB was acting up so much that I could feel it out of normal rhythm. It was standing room only in there at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. I waited 30 minutes before going in to be triaged. They did do an EKG in triage, but no one told me if it was fine or if they saw anything in it. No one called me in for a reassessment either. I realize it is busy and overwhelming in there, however I would never dream that with those symptoms I would be waiting 11 hours and end up giving up and leaving. I only left because the nausea passed and I was starting to feel hungry after not eating for approximately 18 hours. So, I made the decision to leave after checking to see if they could give me any indication of how much longer I might be there. They said there is no room in back and it will be quite a while longer. I mentioned it to my family doctor, and he was surprised that I was not taken in with those symptoms. He has referred me to a cardiologist, now the question is how long will I be waiting for the call for the referral. I am still not feeling 100% some days, however not feeling reassured about ever going back to the ER either with all the horror stories out there. I know that someone needs to start moving on rectifying the disasterous healthcare system.
Yvonne - Reserve Mines
My mom is a cancer patient and has also battled with crohn’s disease for two decades. In November, she experienced a bowel prolapse at home. A portion of her rectum was protruding from her body and was bleeding along with other fluid loss. She could not sit down and the pain and blood loss made her very weak. Due to ongoing ambulance shortages in Cumberland County, my dad took the risk and drove her to the Cumberland Regional Hospital in Amherst himself. When they arrived, they went through the regular motions of registering and waiting to be triaged. My mother could not sit and was very weak. When my father tried to make a space for her to lay down to wait, he was told that was not allowed. He asked why and the hospital employee told him that if he was not able to get her back up, no one would be allowed to help him because it wasn’t their job and they would have to call an ambulance to the ER to assist. Of course my father, a former politician, thought this was ridiculous and argued for another option. A security guard moved two chairs over from the neighbouring laboratory waiting area to pitch together to create a temporary place for her to lay. I also want to state that she was not able to put on any pants and was nude from the waste down. She brought her own blankets with her and was never offered any privacy. Their total wait time was around 2 hours. That is much better than the status quo these days and a rectal prolapse is not considered life threatening most times. However, the lack of humanity displayed because of policy and union job descriptions is hurting people and taking away their dignity.
Krista - Amherst
My husband had a colonoscopy done at the North Side General in November. During the procedure, his heart rate dropped quite a bit, enough for the doctor doing the procedure to stop and bring him around. They then asked me to put him in my car and bring him to the ER at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital - not sure why an ambulance wasn’t involved or why they didn’t see him there. We drove to the Regional and he was triaged. He gave the triage nurse the letter that the doctor at the other hospital had written explaining what was going on. We never saw a medical staff after that until 8hrs later. The doctor who saw him when he got in did not even know there was a letter. We had to tell her, and she then went and read the letter and decided he shoul be kept in for the night on a heart monitor. Thank goodness our story has a happy ending and my husband is okay. We do not know what caused the problem though. I do feel I need to add that I saw some pretty unsettling things that night while waiting in the waiting room. The one thing that bothers me the most is that for a long period of time I’m talking over an hour, there was no triage nurse at the desk. Anyone could have gotten sicker or died in that waiting room and nobody would have been the wiser. While the desk was empty, a young girl, probably 12 or 13 years old, came in with her finger out of joint in a couple of spots. She stood by triage crying in so much pain for 20 minutes before finally the lady who was doing COVID questioning went in through the nurses office and called out to someone.
Shelly - Baddeck
On October 3rd, 2022, I went to the QEII Emergency feeling very unwell. I had a high fever of 39.9, extreme body aches, convulsive shivering, and I was vomiting. I couldn't feel my finger tips, and my hands were very cold. I was delirious and I was so weak I could barely walk. My husband was told he could not accompany me to the waiting roo, so he left me there in a wheel-chair. I asked for something to throw up in and I was brought a bag that was sealed in another bag. I was too weak to open it, and nobody would help me when I asked. I sat for 2 hours waiting to be triaged. When they finally called my name, I asked them to help me get wheeled over as I was too weak to do it ony own. The nurse in my opinion acted very annoyed with this. 2 nurses then proceeded to triage me. One of them said out loud she was concerned about my heart rate and having such a high fever and so she gave me some Tylenol. The nurses were up and down and back and forth a lot from the desk and triage area. A male doctor then called them over to talk saying "she's been traveling, has a fever and bodyaches, so it's probably just COVID". All 3 then proceded to walk away and never came back. I sat in the triage booth for 25 minutes before another nurse started yelling "who is taking care of this woman? She's been here for 25 minutes". Another 20 minutes, and I was approached by a male nurse who put a bracelet on me with a blue stripe. I was at the bottom of the list to see a doctor. I was left to wheel myself backwards out of the booth as they just told me to go wait and walked away before I could even ask for help. I then waited for 5.5 hours and heard nurses saying there were still 120 plus people there and patients (at the bottom of the list) would not be seen until late the next afternoon. I called my husband to come and pick me up and take me to another hospital. I was taken to the Cobequid Hospital, where the nurses and doctors were so kind. It was discovered that I had a life threatening kidney infection. My blood pressure was dangerously low, my temp was 40. If I had stayed at the QEII -- I likely would have died. I was told I made a good decision to go to another hospital. Doctors and nurses assumed I had COVID, but didnt even test me to confirm at the QEII. I was tested at the Cobequid Hospital and after 12 hours I was put on liquids and antibiotics, morphine for the extreme pain etc. I was transferred back to the QEII and was there for the rest of the week.
Denise - Bedford
I suffered from a Pneumothorax in November of 2022. I made my way to the Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital in Head of Chezzetcook. Upon arrival, I was gasping for air, couldn’t walk and was brought in via wheelchair. The nurse let me sit there in the room, not breathing as she scolded me for not being able to speak and say my name. Bare in min, I was experiencing a full lung collapse and not breathing. I waved my wallet and tried to talk but just couldn’t as it was too hard. I tried to continue motioning to my wallet to give her my Nova Scotia health card and ID, however she kept getting angry with me and saying she cannot and will not help me until she knew what my name was. I managed to pull my card out and whisper the words “I can’t breathe” -- she proceeded to register me, left me there alone with no breathing mask, came back to do blood work, she grabbed my arm very rough and angrily tried to put the needle in which wasn’t working, leading her to become more frustrated. My breathing has since felt like it’s in serious jeopardy. I start crying. I’m scared I’m going to die, and no one is listening to me or even trying to. I sat there gasping for air, accepting I might die. I felt a warm trickle down my arm and I look down to see she busted two veins, which she proceeded to tell me was my fault due to moving - however I wasn’t moving and couldn’t because I was in such severe pain (hence why I also was brought in via wheelchair). She then angrily starts going around the room gathering things I’m not sure for what, or why, but at this point I don’t want to be touched anymore and I just want help breathing. I gasped out words, while crying, telling her “you’re not being very gentle and I’ve been here before and never treated this way”… When I say this nurse spun, she spun! She spun and looked at me and said “GOOD. Cya!” She stormed out of the room and left my patient door wide open, I was left to be seen bloodied and crying by other ER rooms with patients in them. A new nurse came in and she was AMAZING. Normal care you’d expect from a nurse. Doctors came in shortly after and I was very much well taken care of. However it’s been a year since my collapse, and I still have panic attacks. I have flash backs of the day I was begging for help and trying to breathe and all that nurse cared about was my name, I tried to give her my wallet, she could clearly see I couldn’t sit up, I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t talk, I was in dire need of help and she let me down. She traumatized me. Even my 26year old partner knew more what to do that day than a nurse. He understood when I couldn’t talk and pointed to my chest, I wasn’t breathing! The nurse didn’t even seem to understand that and proceeded to get quite literally angry at me and irritated with me and told me she would NOT be helping me! I know how stressed healthcare providers are, but I could of died that day - and that makes me think of all those whom weren’t as fortunate as I am. Their voices need to be heard, stories told and never forgotten. As I said prior - I suffer from flashbacks and anxiety now. Thank you for giving me a space to share my voice and story, it means a lot to me. I’ve only shared my story so far to my pneumothorax group. I’ve felt the need to talk and heal since this incident. I’m concerned for my next collapse (whenever it will happen, I’m not sure but it will). I hope I don’t experience what I did the first time.
Monique - Chezzetcook
I was injured in a serious motor vehicle accident - no fault of my own (someone crossed the centerline and hit me head on.) I ended up in the hospital for almost 3 weeks. The first 5 days which I stayed in the outpatients section on a bed waiting for a room. Unable to move at all in constant pain. It turns out I had L4L5 and L5 S1 herniation and tearing. Upon meeting with a surgeon, he recommended getting the surgery within 3 months to prevent permanent nerve problems in my left leg and foot. I then waited 8.5 months to get surgery, which they did a fantastic job, but I am still having complications. My next steps as recommended by the surgeon was to meet with my family GP (I dont have one) to discuss a referral to a nureologist. I managed to get a phone call appointment at a clinic (which I waited 2 months for). When they called me, they just tried prescribing me a bunch of pain meds. Then they said they couldn't refer me to anyone without an in person exam and I am not their patient, so I should call 811 and register for a family doctor (which was done years ago). Then she said just keep waiting then thats all I can do for you. Its an endless loop. Today, I can't feel my left foot or calve, I am in constant pain and cannot bend or lift and walk with a cane on the bad days and there is plenty. I know a lot of people have way worse stories and I wish you all the absolute best ❤!
Samantha - Bedford
My story dates back a few years to 2019 at the QE11 emergency department. My grandmother was admitted at the hospital on a Friday afternoon. After waiting for hours on end, they were able to put her in a temporary room in the emergency department. There, they continued to do tests to find she had an infection in her leg that led to her heart. They started antibiotics right away and my grandmother was 100% on the mend. Sunday night, we were told she could come home Monday. The infection seemed to be cleared up. At this point they still didn't have a permanent room for her, and she was still in the emergency department. Monday morning, we get a phone call saying it's time to say goodbye to our grandmother -- which made no sense. When we arrived, my grandmother was alive, she was alert she even reached her arm out for me to come over to her. A nurse comes in to tell us she's going to give our grandmother some morphine to help her feel comfortable, which I thought was odd because again she was completely fine. Then 20 minutes later the nurse comes back in and gives her more. This continues for about an hour before I even clue in to whats going on. So the nurse comes in again to let us know this dosage of morphine will be the last dosage and that it's time to say goodbye. At that point, my grandmother yells "NO" and the nurse continues to give her the morphine. My parents and my siblings and I are all freaking out, saying this doesnt make any sense, she's fine, she's saying no. To which the nurse replies "she has too many heath issues, and we don't have any rooms for her" . Her health issues were diabetes and parkinsons disease. All of us were in shock and didn't exactly realize what was going on or I should say we couldnt process it. I'm not entirely sure. So basically, they euthanized her in front of all of us as if she was a pet dog or cat. This was completely traumatizing. My entire family had to go through therapy after this. We still can't wrap our heads around how this happened, and how we felt so helpless. I feel like there's something I could have done to save her from that. But it all happened so fast. After this experience, I pray none of my other loved ones ever get sick. Things like this shouldnt happen because of over crowding. It was as if they euthanized her to make room for someone else. The nurse also rushed us out of the room after she passed, giving us hardly any time to grieve. This experience has left my family completely traumatized and heartbroken.
Becky - Halifax
My stepfather was brought to emergency at Yarmouth Regional Hospital by my mother in December 2005 due to an issue with his diabetes. He had just had an insulin pump installed that year, and there had been some issues getting his sugars sorted. He was brought to a room, and left there alone (they would not allow my mother to remain with him). Hours and hours went by, until finally his room was flooded with nurses/doctors. He had suffered a major heart attack resulting from his diabetic reaction being left untreated and waiting. He did not recover. My mother still feels like she relives her husband's passing every time she hears a story of someone else dying in the ER.
Corey - Yarmouth
As a Medical Doctor from abroad, living in Nova Scotia, I would like to comment on the current medical shortage in this province. I studied medicine in Germany, and I completed my residency specialization (orthopedic, traumatology, emergency medicine). In total, I have 25 years of expertise as a physician. Unfortunately, despite these high qualifications, I have not yet received a license to practice medicine in Nova Scotia. I cannot understand this in any way. I have not yet received any official reason for this. I don't think it will be the differences between a German and a Canadian body. And with the large number of vacancies and shortages, there is no danger of taking a job away from a Canadian. The hospital near me is chronically understaffed and the ER is closed most of the time. Meanwhile, I now have to consider alternative fields of work. It should be added that as a medical doctor from abroad, I am not an isolated case. I now know many doctors and dentists from Europe who have had to look for alternative jobs or have given up on immigrating here completely for these same reasons. Very sad. I would have been happy to offer my many years of expertise to the local population here. I wish you much strength to process the incomprehensible event. I offer my deepest condolences to the family of the deceased. It is beyond words that such situations happen in a first world country. Dr. Mittler Richmond County
Dr. Mittler - Richmond
I want to thank you so much for providing this website as a way for Nova Scotians to (hopefully) be heard by the Nova Scotia Health Authority. Although my husband and I are new to Nova Scotia, we realize there is a real need for people to get involved in the fight to get the healthcare they need & deserve. We are both committed to help in any way we can with the fight. So, this is my story - thankfully not heartbreaking like the other stories I've read on your website - but nevertheless worrisome, as I still don't have a family doctor yet and not at all sure where my story will end. When my husband and I moved to Nova Scotia, we knew there would be a bit of a wait to get a family doctor, but didn't realize just how extremely tricky it would actually be, or that we would become 2 of over 130,000 Nova Scotians on the province's Need A Family Practice Registry. That's pretty mindblowing. I also tried to access the province's virtual care program, but not only was there some confusion re: the free version vs the pay-for-service program - but after trying to get an appointment for over 3 days (they always ran out of appointments each day) - I finally gave up. I've since started feeling unwell & went to a hospital emergency room & was told I had very high blood pressure. I've been put on blood pressure meds & told to see my doctor (which I don't have) for a follow-up to make sure the BP meds I'm on are the right dosage. To be honest, seeing the dire news about the state of healthcare in NS, I'm nervous wondering how things will end for me here in NS.
Leanne - Lunenburg
I went to the ER in September because I had bad pains in my stomach for days, and my doctor told me to go there. I waited from 12:00PM to 10:30PM and decided to leave because they were taking people ahead of me and the ER was packed. I went back the next morning and got in quickly, as the pains were much worse. When I was in the room having an IV put in from an ambulance attendant, a nurse came in the room asking what I was there for, and when would I be leaving because she needed the room for an ambulance that was one the way. A doctor came in and asked if I would be ok to lay in the hall of the ER room. I was made to feel like I should not have been there. But then they did a CT scan and it turns out I had diverticulitis and gallstones.
Stephanie - Amherst
I have to speak out. I have to say something. I need to document my thoughts on what we’re dealing with right now. Our healthcare system needs help. Our doctors & nurses need help. There are way too many unnecessary deaths happening lately due to not enough people to help people. And right now, I’m so concerned - not only for our community, but I’m concerned for my mom. My mother has been dealing with severe allergic reactions for months now, and we can’t seem to figure out what it is becase we can't access adequate care and assessment. This poor woman is starving herself thinking it’s a certain food she’s reacting to, but nothing is changing. She has done everything recommended by healthcare professionals and nothing has changed. She waited 15 hrs in outpatients one night due to swelling and hives - only be told there was nothing they could do for her. She is getting nowhere with this situation, and it’s only getting worse and I’m very concerned. This is not fair. We need more people to help people. With our growing population - the infrastructure within our healthcare system (amongst many other things) needs to adapt NOW - before it’s too late, and before more awful things happen. My biggest fear is having something bad happen to my mother. My best friend. A human being who has given her whole entire life to helping not only me but everyone in her life, she has been there for so many people along the way and now no one is there for her. She deserves nothing but respect and the same treatment in return. What she is going through right now she does not deserve. I’m not angry with the nurses or the doctors, I am angry with how our healthcare is being run. Something has to change. ASAP.
Kim - New Waterford
I have two children with extensive medical histories. My daughter was born with a rare heart condition requiring emergency open heart surgery. My son was struck by an SUV last year and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury among other injuries. Our family is without a family doctor. We do have a pediatrician but he is also in the process of retiring. It is terrifying that neither of these two children have a primary care point of contact. Knowing if either of my children who have already had to literally fight for their lives, experience an emergency, that the odds of having an ambulance respond in a timely manner, is low is absolutely terrifying. Unrelated to my children, my mother recently experienced a health emergency, an ambulance was called and no one arrived for close to an hour. Sadly that's a good response time these days, but not acceptable. She is also without a family doctor, so has no way to follow up on serious injuries sustained that evening. We are only one family out of thousands with no access to proper timely healthcare. Something needs to be done, urgently.
Sindi - Pictou
I consider myself a victim and also lucky that I am alive at the same time. I called my family physician, and he recommended I go to the emergency department in Halifax. I went there in the morning, and after sitting there for nine hours, I was sent for a CT scan. After shift change at 730PM that evening, I was told there was no one to read my scan, and I was told go home. Two weeks later, my family physician called me and said I had had a stroke. It was a terrible experience and I still cannot believe it. Then, I proceeded to wait seven months for a carotid artery ultrasound, only for the results to come back as equipment malfunction.
Darlene - Sambro
I have a history of heart issues. About a month ago, I had a nose bleed that would not stop bleeding profusely. My wife called 911 for an ambulance at 9:30 pm and they arrived at 1:30 am - 4 hours later. I had already suffered a heart attack, and if this happened to be another heart attack, I would have died and not be able to respond to you here. My wife even said to me, if she had known how bad the healthcare system was here in Nova Scotia, we would never have moved here 2 years ago from Ontario. At least in Ontario, in most cases, an ambulance will arrive in 10 to 15 minutes. This Nova Scotia government healthcare is absolutely a total disgrace, and from what I understand - the situation showing up at emergency departments is even worse. This is even worse than third world medical. It is at a point if someone needs medical assistance, book a ticket and fly to Mexico or Cuba to get better medical care. Our Canadian tax dollars can be used to send aid abroad, but nothing for our own healthcare systems. It is so bad that your terrified to even have to go to emergency department as most likely you won't come out alive, that is if you even get there.
Dave - Lewis Lake
Here is my story. On Wednesday, December 28 I arrived at the Regional Hospital ER at approximately at 8:30AM. I was experiencing severe chest pains. In triage, my blood pressure was over 200. I am not a Doctor, however over 200 blood pressure I know is dangerous. After triage, I was told to sit in the waiting area. More than two hours later, after feeling anxious with my blood pressure, I decided to go home. At 4:00 pm that day, I went back to the Regional, realizing I would just have to wait this time. I was there from approximately 4:30PM to 6:00AM the next day. After more than 12 hours, I went home. I was not called in to see a doctor during this time. There were distraught mothers in the waiting room all night with very sick children. There was a crying child in the waiting area. People went to the nurse asking her to please let the child see a doctor. The next day, on December 29, I was luckily able to get an appointment at the Northside Urgent Care Clinic. There may be a new clinic being built, but quite frankly, we have one ER right now for Glace Bay, New Waterford, Louisbourg, Sydney, North Sydney, Sydney Mines, Boularderie and Baddeck. This is too large an area for one ER that is critically understaffed. Thank for taking this up.
Alan - Boularderie
My mother fell sick with stomach pains and fever, so she headed to the closest emergency room. While being triaged on a very busy night, she was repeatedly asked if she "really needed to be here?" -and- did she "really want to wait to be seen for a stomach ache?" She was made to feel like she didn't need to be there, but she stayed on the insistence of family. She ended up having an abdominal abcess. She was prescribed antibiotics and sent home. A few days later, she began to vomit and experience more pain. She had not improved on the antibiotics. Back to the ER she went on a somewhat quiet night. While waiting to be seen, she became incontinent from sickness, and was told that they had nothing to help her. No diapers, no wipes. She had to be delivered clean clothes in the middle of the night. When she was finally placed in a room, she was left unattended most of the evening. When I arrived in the morning, she was scared and stated no one had been around for hours and she was unable to reach her call bell which was hung up on the wall. When the ER physician finally saw her - he actually apologized and said it was a failure of emergency room that she hadn't been treated correctly the first visit. Her abcess had grown quite large by this time, and she was in real danger. They could not get her vitals stable and had to give her vitamin K to bring her INR's down for emergency procedure to drain the abcess. She was given the vitamin K while in an ER hallway, and was left alone, at which time she went into anaphylaxis. She had no call bell, and she had to pound on the walls to be get a nurses attention as she could not yell or speak. This whole experience was a nightmare, and while she recieved some terrible care, she also had some of the most amazing nurses and doctors. She was lucky enough to make it through and regain her health, but I cant imagine where she would be if she had listened to the first triage nurse, or hadn't gone back to the ER the second time. Enough is enough. It's time for change.
Chelsea - Sydney
I am a retired emergency nurse. I don't remember the exact date, but it was about 2 years ago. My husband, who has a history of heart disease, had a major heart attack about 5 years prior, and he fell ill. He was unable to walk from the car to the emergency triage staff, so I got him a wheel chair. His skin was cold and clammy. He was confused. We were told to wait in the waiting room. I could not believe my ears. I said very sternly to the triage staff "I am a nurse and there is no way I would ever put someone that looked like my husband in the waiting room." His previous heart attack he had no chest pain, we thought he just had the flu. Only because I challenged her, she told us to go around the corner for an ECG. I could not get him from the wheelchair to the stretcher, and had to call to a passing staff member in the hall to help get him on to the stretcher. His ECG was normal. He was not having a heart attack. They never did really find out what was wrong with him, but he did spend the night in Emergency to be supervised. I complained to the administration the next day, only because, I felt strongly that he was not triaged properly and although he was okay, another person may not be. I was very concerned that someone who looked that ill would not be taken right in, especially with his cardiac history. Fortunately our story had an okay ending. But I am worried about other people in the future. I do not believe the problem was because they were too buisy or there were no beds. I believe the problem was at triage.
Maureen - Halifax
The system failed my aunt. It robbed my cousins of their mother at a young age. She was admitted to hospital with delirium. We were told she was a healthy woman with mental health issues. She spent 3 months in the hospital. The nurses and support staff were amazing. The doctors did not listen to them or our family. We fought hard explaining what we thought - and my aunt felt it was something so much more. Because she was overweight and suffered from depression they looked no further. After months of fighting they finally did a CT which they had been telling us for years they couldn’t do. Two weeks later she was unresponsive, after crying for those two weeks and begging us to help her because she knew it was something more. Next thing we know, an intern walks in and tells us she is end of life. She passed 48 hrs later from what we are now told was end stage liver failure, and congestive heart failure. All of which was shown on the CT. None of that happened in 3 weeks. It had to be years. All the years we fought for more tests and were turned away. Telling the doctors she looked yellow and being met with “must be the lighting”. So much more. The system failed my aunt. It robbed her kids of a mom, and us of a major part of our family.
Lynn - New Glascow
In 2018 I was at work and I started seeing very strangely from my left eye. Within 10 minutes, I couldn't see at all. I rushed to the hospital, thinking that the issue was serious, as it had never happened to me before. When I arrived I waited 20 minutes leaning on a wall because there was no place to sit. There were exhausted elders in wheelchairs and plastic chairs waiting to be triaged. Within 30 minutes, a nurse took notes and told me to wait. I waited 3 hours (I was finally able to sit) before being moved to another department. I suppose I was 'triaged' and then I ended up sharing a sort of cubicle separated by a curtain. Total lack of privacy and lack of respect for both of us. After a total of 6 hours, I finally saw a doctor that told me what I had already discovered by myself during the waiting time (thanks to the internet). Instead of being something very serious, such a detached retina, I had had an ocular migraine that made me temporarily blind in one eye. I am thankful it wasn't anything serious, because I would have probably lost or damaged my vision for sure. Something needs to change.
Ilaria - Eastern Passage
My father had a heart attack a few years back. He went to the ER in New Waterford. He had an EKG and bloodwork done not long after being triaged. His EKG came back normal, and while waiting for his bloodwork they decided they were going to release him. Just as he was walking out the door, his bloodwork came back that he was actaully having a heart attack. He was then transferred from New Waterford to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. He was left in emerg for a few days, as there were no empty beds available. Once he was finally transfered upstairs, he was there for over a week because there were no ambulances available to take him to Halifax. When an ambulance became available for the transfer, there were no beds in Halifax -- so the transfer was cancelled. My father ended up flat-lining for over 3 minutes. The cardiologist was leaving for the day and happened to notice my father laying on the floor. He was able to resuscitate him. The family was called to the hospital, as they didn’t think he was going to make it. They life-flighted him to Halifax, where he waited in ICU for almost a week due to there being no beds available. He finally ended up getting a triple bypass, WEEKS after his heart attack. He was in the hospital for a short time after his surgery, and was released because they needed the bed for someone else. I emailed the Minister of Health and Wellness at the time who responded that they were working to improve care etc. It has only got worse since my fathers experience. The Government just doesn’t seem to care.
Chrissy - New Waterford
My wife went by ambulance to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. She arrived at 3PM and was not admitted until 1AM the next morning and then did not see a doctor until 7AM. 16 hours. The doctor sent her for X-rays and said there was nothing to report. But my wife was in a lot pain and pushed for further testing. She saw another doctor at 12PM - 23 hours after arrving. This time, she got blood work done . The new answer was that she had double pneumonia . We are very fortunate to have her, as she was going to go home due waiting so long. In another 24 hours, she would not have made it. We got lucky. She went on to spend 6 more days in hospital. Nurses and doctors, although very overwhelmed with so many people sick, did everything possible to keep my wife comfortable but it was a long week. In closing, they have to find a way to get everyone in out patients / the ER looked after, especially those that undoubtedly are sicker and in more danger of not making it through a 16 hour wait. I do believe the doctors and nurse care, but it is out of their hands. Keep fighting because you are the one person that can get things done. If I can help in any way let me know. We do not want another loved one to die due to our health system.
Nick - Glace Bay
In December of 2022 I phoned 911 as I had a bad fall 2 days previous. I was in too much pain to let it go any longer. I was taken to Antigonish by ambulance and saw a doctor who assessed and injected 3 needles around my shoulder area. I was still in a lot of pain, and the medication(s) made me lethargic, so I tried to sleep a bit while on the stretcher. However a nurse quickly approached me, telling me she was trying to find a taxi for me to take me home, as there were not enough beds for me to stay. My head spun in disbelief. I then said to the nurse, you mean to tell me your going to send me home in a taxi with a stranger in my pyjamas, slippers and no winter jacket at 2:00AM? I said it wouldn't be the first time I slept on a stretcher in the emergency room and that I would feel safer staying. The nurse said well you can lay on it, but we'll probably need it soon. During that time it appeared they didn't know what to do with me. When day time arrived I eventually was on my way to the Guysborough Hospital for admittance. The new doctor asked me if I had a x-ray in Antigonish, and was shocked that I hadn't. When the results of the x-ray came back, I was told I had a broken rib. They were prepared to send me home with an undiagnosed broken rib, in a taxi. I'm a single person so I feel some of us need to be heard, we speak for ourselves.
Lillian - Louisdale
Sadly our healthcare system has been getting worse and worse since my sister lost one of her best friends about 7 years ago at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. Her name was Kelly, and she was in her mid thirties. She went to the ER with a headache that was so extreme that it brought her to her knees. She was triaged and left in the waiting room for 6 hours, where she eventually collapsed and died from an aneurysm. She left behind a new husband and young son and it was very tragic. Nothing has changed in the ER other than getting worse and worse and worse. I am praying for you and your family. Sadly it will probably take many more unnecessary deaths before our government will make any changes. They just don't seem to care.
Rhonda - Sydney
Life changed suddenly at 3:50PM on December 31st, 2022. What should have been an enjoyable evening of reminiscing and ringing the new year was changed in an instant. My mother fell in her kitchen and was unable to move. Thankfully her neighbour was there doing a couple of little chores for her to make sure she was set for the evening. When he found her on the floor, he moved her away from the woodstove and called 911. I arrived within 20 minutes - and my brother shortly after that. While we sat and waited for an ambulance to come, her neighbour who happens to be an OR nurse, came to help. We made her as comfortable as possible with blankets warmed in the dryer, some Tylenol, and some Advil a couple of hours later. After 3 more calls to 911 with not even an estimate as to when someone may come to help, I called my boss. I work at a funeral home, and I knew we had a van and a stretcher. I knew this was the only way to get her off the floor and to the hospital, where I hoped someone would help. It was now 9:00PM, and for over 5 hours she laid on the floor and no ambulance ever came. We got her to the Cumberland Regional Health Care Center, and proceeded to wait in the hallway until after 11 PM on a funeral home stretcher before we could even get an X-Ray. It was confirmed that she had a broken hip, and the hospital in New Glasgow was then contacted. They would have taken her the next day for surgery, but once again we had to wait for an amubulance. 32 more hours would pass before she had to endure the most painful ride she has ever had. Thankfully her surgery was a success but unfortunately no bed was available in a restorative care hospital, and she is now back in Amherst. The nurses do what they can and are very kind, but our system has failed us once again, and she is not getting the care she should have. Thankfully my mother is strong and resilient and is determined to get back home. Yesterday, she was told she is now COVID positive, and she is terrified. It is horrible to think that a place where we go to get better has made her sicker than ever. I am thankful to all those who have helped through this ordeal, but we need to do better. It starts at the top.
Patricia - Cumberland
I suffered a miscarriage on new years eve 2021 in HRM. I didn't even know when to go to the hospital, as I didn't know what could happen to me, which is somewhat embarrassing to admit, but that's an indication of our level of maternal health education. I ended up going to the QEII at 10AM the next day. I waited for several hours before being seen, which was not awful considering our current standards. I endured more painful examinations than I can count. At the risk of being graphic and upsetting, the doctor who was handling my case was not able to assist in removing the stuck material from my cervix and sent me home instead, as "my body seemed to know how to take care of this". I got a shot of blood product, and my husband helped me to the car. I went home at 7PM, and continued to bleed for 18 hours before being brought into the ER in a wheelchair. I could no longer stand and collapsed in the ER bathroom. Finally, after yelling and begging for help, a nurse helped my husband pick me off the floor and got me admitted. It was later that day, Jan 2, that they finally did blood work and determined my blood oxygen level was dangerously low, and that I would require a blood transfusion. I was transferred to the IWK and stayed an additional day. I had a blood transfusion on Jan 3rd, and my understanding is that I should have gotten 2 packs of blood - but due to the shortage, I was only given 1 pack because I had enough benefits through work to take time off and build my hemoglobin with (expensive) medication. I feel I am fortunate to have survived quite frankly. I had to return to the IWK for additional ultrasounds that week, and honestly, the staff are kind as heck once they realize why you're there. With this said, I was asked repeatedly, and loudly, "how many weeks are you?" - whereby I had to explain my situation while tears poured down my face, and while pregnant women who were there for happy reasons had to watch. It was hellish experience - and I am a fortunate one, with health coverage and an ability to take time off to recover. This was over a year ago and the whole experience still haunts me -- but at least I'm still here.
Jasmine - Spryfield
In September 2022, I brought my 3 year old into the Amherst hospital as she had a massive cut on her chest. It was bleeding quite a bit, and I could tell it was very deep. We waited over 9 hours before being seen. I went up to triage multiple times asking for help. By the time someone finally saw her, it had stopped bleeding. After several hours of putting pressure on it, I was advised that it was now just a cosmetic issue. They had to scrape the scab and tissue away that had started forming after so many hours of waiting to be seen. She is only 3 years old, and she required 6 sutures that night. She now has a very thick and very large scar on her chest that she will have for life.
Stephanie - Amherst
On October 15, 2022 we took our 10 month old son to the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville. He had a high fever, a deep chest cough, labored breathing, and a hoarse throat to the point he couldn't even cry. I told the doctor that I just wanted to make sure it wasn't RSV, as I knew it was RSV season, and he was showing all the signs. Without any real analysis, doctor told us it was "just a cold" and advised us to simply give him some tylenol. No swabs were done. No x-rays were taken. On October 17th, he was lethargic, pale, and struggling to breathe. We then went to Hants Hospital in Windsor. They immediately put him on oxygen, swabbed him and x-rayed him. We were rushed to IWK PICU where he was properly diagnosed with RSV, bronchiolitis and pneumonia. To see a 10 month old baby, especially your own, with an I.O. put in his little leg (it's an I.V. drilled into the bone), an I.V. in his head, all while struggling to LIVE and in absolute fear of what's happening to him was heart wrenching. We were at the IWK for 1 week. My son could have died. We need to change our Healthcare system. For our children.
Clea - Wolfville
My heart is breaking for those who have shared horrific stories and have lost loved ones. My story does not have a tragic end, as I am on the road to recovery, but I would like to share my experience of spending several days with a broken femur on a gurney in the hallway of the ER at South Shore Regional Hospital. I fell and broke my femur last July, and I was taken by ambulance to South Shore Regional in Bridgewater. I was triaged in a reasonable length of time, and X-rays and CT scans were done. I was told I needed surgery in Kentville, and that hopefully I would be going the next day. Instead, I spent two days and two nights on a gurney in the hallway, and then I was moved to a room in the Maternity ward for another two days and two nights while I waited to be transported to Kentville. My accident happened on a Sunday, and on Thursday of that week I finally got surgery. I want to share what I saw and heard while lying on a gurney in the ER. At any given time, there would be at least two paramedics with their patient on a stretcher waiting to be seen. Sometimes, there were up to 12 of them. The waiting room and hallway were constantly congested, and I shudder to think what would have happened if there was a fire. The staff in the ER dealt with everything while I was there - falls, medical emergencies, addiction issues, mental health issues, people with dementia who had nowhere to go, angry and frustrated people, and even the aftermath of a brawl at the South Shore Exhibition. There were people there who had been waiting seven and eight days to be sent to Halifax for critical tests. It was constant chaos and reminded me of watching video footage of triage stations in war zones. While I was there, I didn't sleep because it was impossible, and I was pretty uncomfortable as you can imagine. Also, because I was waiting for surgery, I couldn't eat or drink anything, so for a few days I didn't eat through the day, and once they determined I wasn't going for surgery that day, by supper time usually, I would be allowed something. One night every ER between Bridgewater and Yarmouth was closed, which meant Bridgewater had to take the overload of ambulance emergencies. That night I can't even tell you how many and for how long paramedics and ambulances were tied up waiting for their patients to be seen. Kentville finally was clear for me to have surgery, and I had to wait an extra day because there were no ambulances available to take me. When I got there, I had surgery the same day, for which I am extremely grateful. Another patient in my room had to wait several days because their surgery required a bed be available for them in ICU, which of course, wasn't available. They did finally get the life-saving surgery they needed, but only after a few tense and anxiety-filled days. As I mentioned at the beginning, my story is not tragic, but my experience certainly could have been less stressful and my care more timely, if things were working as they should. I witnessed medical staff working under impossible conditions, and I did not encounter one of them who was not trying to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities - an extremely frustrating and basically impossible task. How these people get up and come to work every day is beyond me. Our system has failed. Our medical professionals need help, and the public needs to know there is help if they need it. I see nothing changing despite our government's promises to fix healthcare.
Heather - Mahone Bay
I gave birth to our daughter by emergency delivery in our home. September 2022 during the long weekend, I was 39 weeks pregnant. We spent the weekend on high alert waiting for labour signs. When contractions started, we called family, got our bags for the hospital to the door and woke our 2year old daughter. We needed to go to the hospital immediately. We live in rural NS, nearest hospital is 20 minutes away, nearest hospital for baby delivery is another 40-50 minutes away. I knew something was wrong. I was in severe pain, I collapsed onto my bed and physically couldn’t sit up again. I could feel something was wrong, so my husband called 911. We were transferred to an EHS person, and the call dropped several times. Rural cell phone service is a complaint for a different day. The pain intensified, blood was pooling, the baby was coming. Throughout this ordeal, I begged and pleaded for the EHS person to tell us when the ambulance would get here, how long would it be, would they be here soon. All they would say was, “we're coming as fast as we can.” After hours, it was obvious this baby was coming NOW, and nobody was going to be here to help us. All I could see was blood everywhere, my husbands white face, and our 2yr old standing quietly by the bedside. I remember wondering if I was going to die. All of the worst case scenarios raced through my mind. Was the baby alive? What if delivery would hurt her, what if she wasn’t in position, what if I wasn’t dilated enough, etc. With my first daughter, I hemorrhaged, if that happened this time, I would die. Eventually, I could feel my baby’s head and I needed to push. Still no ambulance. Finally, at 4:27AM, after three pushes, our baby was born without any medical assistance. She was purple and with the cord around her neck. She didn’t cry. I remember picking up my baby from the bed, and wondering if she would breathe. There was nobody to help us. We were on our own. She pinked up, was breathing, but never cried. She seemed okay, but there was nobody to provide medical attention. I clutched her to my chest as best I could as I shook uncontrollably. My husband got string to tie the cord. We held our breath waiting for the placenta, and any sign of hemorrhaging. Eventually, fire rescue personnel arrived, fresh from the scene of a forest fire. They were completely aghast, their call was for “active labour” and they weren’t expecting a newborn. They helped tie the cord and steady my husband. A lady brought a stuffed toy for our toddler and took her from the room. The placenta was delivered, and with all of the luck in the world, the feared hemorrhaging never happened. When the ambulance finally arrived, we got a quick once over, cut the cord, and started packing up to be transported to the hospital an hour away. We then spent an hour in the driveway in the ambulance, while they struggled to get myself and baby strapped down safely. The paramedics were magnificent. They were level headed and kind. All of the things you could wish for in an emergency team. We are so lucky. Luck is the word. We are lucky we didn’t need immediate help, we are lucky all of the thousands of things that could have gone wrong didn’t. We are lucky we didn’t make it out onto the road before the baby came. Luck is the only reason we have a happy healthy 4 month old now. This experience has left me devastated and traumatized. All of the stories of people waiting 5+ hours for ambulances, and the ones that never arrive. We are LUCKY we got one at all. Every day I’m living, knowing myself and my loved ones are on their own. If anything happens, choking on food, a car accident, a fall, they will be on their own. We cannot count on ambulances to help us. There is seemingly no help for Nova Scotians, we are on our own.
Hannah - West Hants
As a Registeted Nurse in this health authority, I thank you. Nurses everywhere have sounded the alarm for so long. They do not respect our insight, or us, and they push us to work more and more -- to the point of unsafe practice, and to the point that many of us are in tears daily and do not want to continue in the profession. We are also being paid so poorly for the massive workload we undertake, often for more than 12+ hrs each day. I am so very sorry for your loss - am grateful you are speaking out, and am grateful for this website.
LeAnn - Halifax
Unfortunately I worked at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital for a brief time prior to accepting another position. I would like to say how terribly sorry I am that your mom had to go through that terrible experience and then passing away as a result of no care. No one should have to experience that feeling of fear, frustration and loneliness when seeking help. My initial reaction when I started as a new grad was “this (health care in general) is an accident waiting to happen”, and this was 20 years. ago. One conversation I had with a friend of mine about 15 years ago was about nursing salaries not being equitable for the work being done. My friend told me basically I was paid too much (which was a common thought at the time), admittedly to the average person it would seem that we did get paid a lot, however I pointed out that when she goes to work and makes a big mistake, no one is at risk of dying as a result. I then said, if they don’t start paying nurses more, in 10-15 years we won’t have enough to run this system. The best part about being a nurse is working with clients to help them achieve their goals, however the last 5+ years have been heartbreaking, clients would tell me their stories of suffering, waiting, lack of care, mistakes made due to understaffing, and I would give them the information to create a complaint with NSHealth, and implore them to complete it. I would help them through the process. Unfortunately no one would ever complete it, and I understood why, it’s re-traumatizing, there was fear of being targeted and receiving worse care. It was also exhausting for them, and they just wanted to put it all behind them. This is why I’m reaching out - to let you know that this is EXACTLY what everyone needs. A safe place, that’s not a part of the system, simple to access, where stories can be housed and read by everyone, and those who were fearful to share will gain more confidence to perhaps reach out. Being a mom myself I know without a doubt your mom is beaming, from wherever that place is we go afterwards, she is very proud of you. Keep going, and I know that there are many nurses out there watching, in the background, and cheering you on.
Heather - Sydney
My son Ryker, who was non-verbal, died at the age of 11 on Jan 1st, 2022-- 3 hours after he was discharged from the IWK emergency room without any bloodwork, scans, and incorrect and incomplete vitals done. The doctor said he suspected Ryker had a stomach flu, and released us on a 48hr plan; come back if he didn't get better, or come back if he got worse and they would do testing-- might I add Ryker didn't have a fever nor direrrha. I have made various TikTok's outlining the full chain of tragic events. Like you, I am not backing down. We held a vigil at the Province House, and have emailed and contacted many folks. I demanded a review and action to be taken. I filed a complaint with the college of physicians, and after the preliminary investigation, it was recommended to be reviewed by the investigation review committee. I testified with the committee on Nov 24, and they sit again on Jan 19, 2023, to countine their investigation. The committee team sits every 6 weeks. The IWK investigation has lead to 5 recommendations to implement due to the chain of events that lead to my son's preventable death, and what happened after he was pronounced. Ryker's comprehensive auptosy came back in July 2022, and the findings were that Ryker died from Acute/Chronic (Sudden) kidney failure, and not a flu. In hindsight, I found out his heart rate was 179 (high) in triage when I recieved his medical files after he died, and his glucose was 3.7 (low). No bloodwork or scans or any other further investigations. Instead, we were discharged and told to bring him back in 48 hours if he didn't get better, or if he got worse. He went unresponsive and full cardiac arrest 3 hours after he was discharged. Furthermore, I will advocate and assist to improve our broken health care system-- I worked in the nursing sector for 15 years prior to going back to Dalhousie to earn my Bachelor degree in Emergency Health Services Management, and Bachelor's degree in Social Work. Kind regards, Amanda, CCA, BSc, EHSM Hons., BSW
Amanda - Dartmouth
A few years ago, I found myself in a similar situation as Allison Holthoff the 37 year old mother who unfortunately passed away in an ER this December. I arrived at our local ER with severe abdominal pain, I waited 6+ hours in the waiting room physically sick in pain, given only a “vomit bag”. Once I was see, the doctor had said she thought it was “muscle pain” but because I insisted it was not she hesitantly ordered blood work. After the results came back there was an ultrasound and x-ray ordered, whereby they found a large (10mm) kidney stone obstructing my kidney function that would have to be surgically removed. They left an IV in my hand and administered as much pain medication to get me through the night and sent me home with dilaudid and morphine. I was instructed to come back the next day where I would spend an additional 16+ hours in a hallway with pain management medication this went on for three days before finally having the 45 minute procedure due to strained OR resources. I have unfortunately gone through this same situation three more times since this initial incident. All of which were at least 6+ hour wait times in an over crowded waiting room.
Andrea - Port Morien
On December 17th, 2020 at approximately 10pm, I called an ambulance for my then 44 year old husband. He woke up from a nap in excruciating pain and his lower leg from the knee down was swollen and discoloured. When the ambulance came, they agreed it was a suspected blood clot, they marked his foot with a pen. Because of COVID restrictions at the time, I was not allowed in the ambulance - and I was told I had to wait until he was assessed before I could be with him. I was losing my mind at home. He called me 45 minutes later and said he was put out in the waiting room. I immediately started calling the hospital, and was pretty much told he was triaged and that he would be seen accordingly. I thought maybe it was possible that I was crazy and it wasn’t as serious as I thought. At 12:30 AM, I texted my husband for an update and he said his leg was getting tighter. I started calling the nurses station - and it was almost 45 minutes before I finally got someone on the phone. They told me he was set to be called in next. 30 minutes later, (it was now almost 2AM), and I called again. A nurse told me they are going to drain the infection off his knee and send him home with antibiotics and that he would be home shortly. After about 45 minutes (now getting close to 3 AM), I texted him and asked for an update - to my surprise he said he was STILL in the waiting room and feeling worse. I called the nurses station again -- it’s now after 3AM, and I had sent him 5 hours ago by ambulance. A nurse I knew happened to answer the phone, and I bluntly asked her if he was going to die in the waiting room. I told her he has a blood clot in his leg in the waiting room. I relayed that a nurse told me his infection was being drained and he was being sent home with antibiotics an hour ago, and yet he still hasn't been seen. She told me the ER was an absolute mess that night, that it was ambulance after ambulance, and that only one doctor showed up to their shift. She said she was going to get him. At this point, I made my way in, totally disregarding the protocols. I arrived a little after 4AM, and he is in a room now. The doctor literally passed me my husband’s cell phone after confirming I was his wife. On the other end of the phone was the vascular surgeon from Halifax, telling me my husband had a massive blood clot, and a pulmonary embolism. He was 44. The doctor told me that he cannot operate until the clot is stable, and if he was brought to Halifax he would be put on medication for 3 days, and because of the size of the clot they didn't want him making the trip in case it dislodged. I sent him by ambulance with a suspected blood clot at 10pm, he sat in ER until almost 4am, and now I am told that the next 72 hours will be touch and go? They put him up on the stroke ward that Friday morning. I was there with him around the clock, they didn't have food for him for two days due to issues in the kitchen. I looked after him and bathed him because it would be Monday before someone was able to come in to wash him. But the scariest part of this story: A doctor came in on Saturday afternoon, after examining him, and telling him he is lucky to be alive and that we can only hope the medicatioopn works, my husband went to get up and go to the washroom and the doctor took a fit and said you do not move from this bed, because if this clot dislodges you could die. My husband was shocked, and he informed the doctor that he had been getting up and going to the washroom since he got there on his own, and the staff there didn’t inform him he shouldn't be moving. He was unknowingly risking his own life. Before the doctor left, I asked him how big this massive blood clot was - like the size of a loonie or a toonie? The doctor replied that it goes from his ankle to his groin, like a snake. It was the whole length of his leg. EHS marked his foot at 10 PM when they took him by ambulance. By the time he was seen at 4 AM, it had quadrupled in size and was now ankle to groin with a pulmonary embolism If a nurse I knew didn't happen to answer the phone tha tnight, he would have died at 44 in the CBRH ER.
Amber - Glace Bay
In early October my dad and I were out running errands about 1.5 hours from home. We were heading back when my dad developed chest pain. We were 5 mins from the Liverpool ER at 1:45 pm on a Tuesday. But instead of taking him straight there, I had to pull over to see if it was open - which it wasn’t. Due to hours long wait for ambulances in our area, I made the decision to drive him 30 mins back to South Shore Regional Hospital. I figured if he got worse, at least I was heading in the direction of a hospital. Families should not have to make these decisions in a time of crisis. You should be able to go to an ER and not worry about it being closed. And you should have confidence EHS has adequate coverage to respond to emergency (which they rarely do). The waiting room was standing room only and despite looking unwell (pale, sweating, in pain) it took an hour for my dad to be triaged. He was actively having a heart attack. Thankfully he got taken right back. But his hospital stay was one misstep after another. Ideally a heart cath is done within 3 days of having a heart attack. His paperwork got lost and it took over a week of him being in hospital for staff to realize that. His doctor hadn’t been in for two days because he thought my dad had already been up to Halifax and sent home. It wasn’t until the doctor came into the room to see another patient that the doctor realized my dad was still admitted and hadn’t gone to Halifax. And because of the delay, instead of the cath being “treatment” it was merely a diagnostic tool. If he has another heart attack he’ll require bypass surgery due to the scar tissue that formed while he was waiting to go up to Halifax. He was also placed in the centre of a 4 bed room, as the fifth bed. He had no where to put his stuff and in order for others to be able to navigate the room, his try had to be over his bed. And his call bell was a silver desk bell despite being the furthest room away from the nurses station.
Ashleigh - Shelburne
I’m deeply sorry for your loss. My story doesn’t come close to yours. I’m currently fighting stage 3 breast cancer. When I first discovered the lump, I was denied a mammogram since I’m under 40 - even though I have family history. I was only stage two, but by the time I got all my appointments and biopsies done, I went into stage 3 - which brings me to having to get chemo, surgery and radiation for something that could of just been a simple day surgery. I’ve been speaking to local MLA’s and government staffers to have the age requirement dropped. I’ve been waiting to feel better after treatment so I can have a proper head on my shoulders to put up the fight. We’re not pawns in a political game and it’s time we take back our control.
Larissa - Halifax
In May of 2021, I had a small bump on my upper thigh, never thought anything of it. I went to work that day, and when I went home, I went immediately to sleep and slept for about 3 hours. When I woke up, I had a high fever that I couldn't get under control. I called 811 and due to the fever and the head pain, they said to be on the safe side and because of COVID concerns, I need to get to the ER. I waited a little bit before I was triaged. After that was done, I was in the waiting room over 8 hours. My fever kept getting progressively worse, to the point I was delirious and incoherent, couldn't hold my head up. And the bump on the back of my leg was swelled up considerably, so sitting in the waiting room chairs was excruciating and especially for such a long time. I finally got called in and waited for probably another 2 hours before I saw a doctor. After assessing me, she informed me I had necrotizing facitis (flesh eating disease) and it was spreading through my upper thigh at a considerable rate. They did a CT scan to determine the depth, and I was told I needed emergency surgery. The next day, I had emergency debriedment surgery. 2 days later as I was being examined by the surgeon, they determined it had spread again and I was rushed for a second surgery. The whole time I was in the recovery unit, doctors and nurses kept telling me how lucky I was to be alive. But if I wasn't kept waiting 8 to 10 hours in the emergency room while this disease rapidly ate through me, how much less would it have been? I was in recovery from May until October, with a VAC dressing attached to me and a gaping hole in the back of my leg. If I hadn't sat out there in extreme discomfort with scary high fevers (between 104 and 105) how much easier would it have been.... I went and asked for an update and told the nurses a few times about the state I was in and was met with annoyance and frustration that I was bothering them. Yes, I survived this. But most people that get flesh eating disease don't. I was very lucky, if it wasn't caught when it was, I wouldn't be alive to tell about it.
Gemma - Sydney
My dad, John, was diagnosed with rectal cancer in summer of 2018. Throughout the fall he went through radiation and chemotherapy. He underwent surgery to remove a tumour in December 2018. Prior to this, dad wasn’t sick, no pills, perfect 120/80 plops pressure. He walked every day, went hunting, fishing and enjoyed to oil paint. Dad never came out of surgery the same. We were told it was delirium and he should come out of it. We had Christmas with him at the hospital, he seemed to be coming around -- he was drawing again, and joking with us. Prior to leaving the hospital, he was supposed to see a social worker due to having a colostomy bag, but that never happened and he was discharged with no plan provided. When VON came, they were told it was for colostomy care and education. But they were not aware that he just had a tumour removed and that he also had a wound that was never addressed properly. Because of this, he ended up septic. I returned to the hospital with him on Jan 8, 2019. We went to the ER and sat there for over 12 hours. My dad was restless, and eventually started reacting poorly, talking nonsense, and the infection was leaking through his jeans. He was so delirious that others in the waiting room thought he was intoxicated, when he was actually suffering. They finally admitted him and that was it. In my opinion his dignity was taken away that day. And he never recovered. That day, my dad was over perscribed, and was incredibly lethargic. At one point, we asked for him to see a psychiatrist, who confirmed he was over medicated, so much so that she asked for permission to photograph him as a teaching photo. My last real day with my dad was August 23 2019, I went in to sit with him at lunch as I was going away for the weekend. When I came back on Sunday, I was informed they were starting end of life care. He basically went into a coma on Monday evening and passed away on Saturday August 31, 2019. I truly believe that had he been treated properly, my dad might still be with us.
Jennifer - New Waterford
Last year, I was in what I considered to be a minor car accident. I felt lucky to have not sustained any major injuries - or so I thought. Two days later, I wasn't feeling well, and I began to experince severe sharp abdominal discomfort and shoulder pain. My wife was concerned enough that she insisted we go to the ER. By the time I arrived, the pain had increased enourmously. While being triaged, I was asked to provide my level of pain on a scale of 1-10. By this point, the pain was almost completely unbearable, so I indicated 10. I explained that I had recently been in a minor accident, but the triage nurse seemed insistent that my symptoms were presenting as what he assumed was kidney stones. I was given 2 tylenol and told the wait would be "a few hours". I waited just over 9 hours, in a waiting room with no avaialble chairs. The pain was so bad, I was, at one point, laying on the floor before a nurse finally brought me a wheelchair to sit in. I have never experienced pain like this. When I was finally brought in, the doctor immediately recognized that I was actaully suffering from a ruptured spleen. I was bleeding internally and if left untreated for much longer, I would not be here today. I feel lucky to be alive, but to this day I am terrified about ever having to require urgent care in this province again.
Paul - Amherst
First off, I'm so sorry for you loss, most likely caused by our failed (not failing, as we are well passed that point) health care system in Nova Scotia. In February last year, I went to the ER as I had a strong feeling I had a blood clot in my leg. I sat for 2 hours before being triaged, only to have the triage nurse look at my toes and tell me i was okay. They then told me to sit in the ER waiting room until a doctor was available. I said I had a blood clot and sitting is ill advised, and they would not let me stand nor give me something to put my feet up with as all chairs were full. I sat there for 8 hours. I was not retriaged even once. I took matters into my own hands, and called Northside Urgent Care for an appointment. They had none available, but told me to come by and hopefully they could see me. Ultrasounds were not even something they offered at the Northside Urgent Care, but once the doctor heard, she ordered an ultrasound immediately. The result was a 14" blood clot in my leg. At this point, I was coughing up medium amounts of blood on a regular basis, so it was obvious that I now had a pulmonary embolism in my lungs. The doctor at the Northside Urgent Care was furious, and gave me an immediate high dose shot in my belly, and called the ER back. I was given a slip from her. I don't know that doctors name, but she likely saved my life that day. The slip told the triage nurses to not even look at me and send me directly to the CT. I did get some push back when I returned to the ER, but refused to go back to the waiting room. I had my CT. Then I waited another 5 hours....sitting....with a clot.... And yes, I had a pulmonary embolism that could have killed me, confirmed by the CT. Which, I might add, was misdiagnosed as pneumonia at first. The inaction at the ER risked my life. If I had of stayed there, I would have died, or at least have been more incapacitated, no doubt in my mind. To this day, I refuse to go to the ER unless it's literally life or death. Our system is broken from the top down. I'm willing to fight this fight with you. My story ended a lot happier than yours, but I still have major health concerns due to this. The fact that they don't listen to the patients is extremely frustrating.
Blair - Sydney
My name is Dr. Jabu Mathew Abraham. I'm a family physician based in Wolfville, NS. First of all, I would like to convey my heartfelt sympathies about the death of your mother in law, Charlene. I was absolutely heartbroken and devastated by the news. Yes, I am used to death as a doctor. But that does not mean I don't feel a death in my heart and soul. So yes, I am sorry to hear about her death, your loss, your family's loss... And also want to say that I am absolutely angry and frustrated as a doctor in this province. I had to go on a medical leave of absence due to extreme burnout and stress from looking after a complex practice in rural NS last summer. I was frustrated beyond description, despaired, dismayed, heart broken and angry and burnt out. I crumbled and so I had to stop working temporarily. I was off for 3 months and I said goodbye to my practice. Because I could no longer in good faith work the way I was working -working so hard- and having so many obstacles facing me from the NS government. I could not help the patients the way I wanted to- I have high standards because patients deserve the best care. And the government wouldn't let me- and others- do the best. Because of the cracks, the deficiencies.. I do work now but in a reduced capacity but still trying to make a difference in some ways as best I can. I help out. But I want to help in other ways. I can't remain quiet anymore about the way things are in health care in NS. There's been cracks for years and years and things need to change. Did you know my father practiced medicine in NS in the 80s when we lived here and he was asked to leave because he wanted to change things for the people? He truly wanted to help the "average Joe". He loves people and is so compassionate. He had new ideas to truly help but nope, no one listened. He got angry and fought back and still tried to help his patients, the people who were suffering and more resistance and anger from the government. So he was essentially told to either leave or have his licensed suspended/reviewed.. So he- and all of us- left...And my dad was ultimately awarded a medal called the Queens Jubilee award for his efforts in helping mental health in Niagara, Ontario( where I grew up). My father is absolutely so upset at what is happening and he is not surprised. Not one bit. My poor father- retired and miles and miles away in India( my parents immigrated to Canada in the 70s, I was born in Ontario but we lived in Newfoundland for my dad's training and then of course NS and then back to Ontario) was tearful on the phone when I told him about your mother in law. My dad still cares so much for the province and he cannot believe what is happening. I came back to Nova Scotia to partly continue my fathers legacy...A dream...which is now a nightmare..A nightmare more so because of the deaths of people who should not have died. Like your mother in law. The mother of three from Cumberland. And others. So many others. The system is so broken and yet, it can be fixed. But we have a government- and have had governments- that don't care enough...or don't listen enough..or truly listen to us on the front lines enough.. So, it's time for us to truly stand up. Too many unnecessary deaths. From poor governing, mismanaging, poor spending, lack of intelligent spending/managing..you name it.
Dr. Abraham - Wolfville
My family is mourning the death of my uncle Joey, around January last year Joe went to the Hospital with stomach pain. He waited about 12 hours before he was seen. The doctor sent him home with pain medication and did not take any test, he said it was kidney or bladder infection. Gave him antibiotics and tylenol. The pain and discomfort continued and his brother took him to Baddeck instead of waiting at the hospital in Sydney. The Doctor there took a CT scan and observed cancer on his lymph nodes. Joey was then sent back to the Regional for more tests. They took a biopsy and told him they will contact him onces the test is in. He waited several more months waiting to hear something. My cousin went over to see how he was doing, she went into his bedroom and came out and called an ambulance. He was rushed to the Regional again and after several days they advised my family that there was nothing they could do for him now. My uncle died at the regional hospital, he was like a father to me and played a big part in our lives.
Ken - North Sydney
We need more capacity for long-term care (LTC) in our healthcare “system” for the whole thing to work. Whether it comes from building LTC beds in public or private facilities (including at home) does not matter…but it must be built, and doctors and nurses are not trained to build infrastructure. Doctors and nurses are working to meet expectations every day in a built environment that is so overloaded that a whole new generation of risks confronts them. It is a pressure cooker. And while throwing higher salaries and crazy high overtime pay keeps it chugging along a little longer, the risks keep escalating and the dissatisfaction for those clinicians and their patients continues to grow. The solution is in the hands of the politicians, and their operatives at NSH. The real cost of healthcare is not from the higher wages for doctors and nurses, it is the inaction by government after government when it comes to building the infrastructure that is so badly needed and that they alone are responsible for. There can be no credibility or trust when there is no accountability for such inaction. EDs that may be very well equipped are rendered almost non-functional due to the inability to jam more patients into the pressure cooker. If it were a pain scale, she was describing a 10/10 pain but we have been running at a 9/10 for many months, and at 8/10 for years. Curiously, the only two days in recent memory when there was actually reasonable flow of admitted patients from our ED to inpatient beds was during the exact days of our hospital accreditation…when the national judges of our hospital system visited to do an appraisal. It was great to work in the ED on those two days. Staff and patients were both happier and safer. We all wondered why that just happens during Accreditation Week. Maybe it is time for us clinicians to retrain so we can start laying bricks to save our healthcare system. As a doctor, it is beginning to look like that might be the only way to reduce the collective pain caused by political inaction.
Dr. MacCormick - Halifax
In December 2022, my mother was sent by EHS from the Northside Guest Home with stroke symptoms. She has not been well for some time. She is 84 years old, heart issues and has faculties intact. When she arrived, she was held in a cold ambulance bay for 9 hours. She was frozen, shivering and very uncomfortable. She was showing stroke symptoms and was very unwell. She sat there without being seen by a nurse only attended to by paramedics. On the 9th hour waiting, we (finally after trying to see her all that time), had her paramedic out to see us and speak with my sister and I. After hearing that it may be the next day before she was seen, we decided to take her back home. She had not been fed, she’s also diabetic and she had been given one thin blanket for warmth - laying in a cold ambulance bay holding area which I hear is a new thing there. The paramedic walked her out to the car in a wheelchair, and we followed. We were disgusted wondering if we were doing the right thing. However, she insisted she wanted to go back to the home and be warm and “could get better care there,” she said. We knew that as well but it was a terrible decision to have to make. The horror stories coming from the CBRH are appalling. I have some of my own and can tell them if needed. However this one, an 84 year old woman left basically to die in the holding bay of EHS ambulances. 14 in a line up that day - all to be seen. It turns out she did actually have a stroke - we found out a month later, when she was complaining about her eyesight. She saw her eye specialist which confirmed she did 100% have a stroke that day. Also found out her stints in legs are not working causing the heart to not bring enough oxygen to the brain. She sits over at the guest home just waiting to pass because she refuses to go back to that place. This is the state we are in and I will stand beside you to express the dire need of speaking our truths and telling our stories ❤️
Jen - Glace Bay
Jen - Glace Bay
I too, lost my mom in law after spending two weeks in CCU. The nurses were great. The lack of communication amongst the departments was clear. The nurses fought to get her a bed in Halifax. Lifeflight came to get her finally, and from what I understand they were about to take her and a last minute call took someone else instead. There was no neurologist in Cape Breton to read her scans, and it appeared to baffle staff when the family suggested a neurologist in Halifax read them (are we not one health authority?) We waited days for an MRI only to find out that her pacemaker was not compatible. There was no rush to get her there…no sense of urgency. Finally after talks with Palliative Care, and the Neurologist, it was decided to remove intubation, keep her comfortable until she passed. The CCU doctor gave the ok to remove the tube and start the process to let her go, when he came running in asking the team to stop, and THEN started to talk about organ donation. It was all mishandled and devastating to watch. We live in a scary time, Katherine. I hope you find the answers you are looking for. I know we never will.
Shauna - Sydney
I'm writing to tell you about my recent experience at the emergency room at the CBRH. I, like you, understand that our healthcare system is in shambles and those working are at a breaking point, if that hasn’t been reached already. I am lucky enough to have a family doctor, so visits to the ER are very few and far between for me. However, I took myself there recently and it was absolutely horrendous. I recently experienced a missed miscarriage back in the summer after 5 years of trying for our own baby. Since then, my mental health has not been the same. I am struggling despite doing all of the things that I know should work and that I’ve been told to do. I make sure I take my antidepressants (despite my dr refusing to up the dose after me admitting my struggles and told me to simply go outside for 20 minutes each day instead), I meditate, I try to keep up on the self care, go to therapy, talk openly about how I’m feeling. Everything. But one day I just hit a wall. I had no idea what else to do. My partner didn’t know how to help me. My mother told me to get over it and move on. I felt like the Debbie downer of all of my friends. Nothing seemed to be working and everyday was so gloomy. I wasn’t suicidal - but I knew I needed something more than the help I was getting. So, I packed a bag with a new book and took myself to the hospital knowing it would be a wait. I was not prepared for what welcomed me when I got there, though. Upon walking in, I saw that it was jam packed. People laying on the floor, children screaming in agony. Others yelling about the wait time and even one throwing up on the floor. It took almost two hours for me to be triaged, at which point they put me at a level two. The nurse told me that level one was basically dead so she was putting me as an emergency because I wanted help with my mental health. She said it may be a wait but I should see someone and be able to figure out a plan for outpatient help or something in a couple hours. I was optimistic for any help at this point. Almost twelve hours later, I decided to go home. The triage nurse that I saw hours earlier came out and addressed the entire waiting room, telling us that it would be anywhere from 12-24 hours MORE before any of us saw a doctor and that there was absolutely nothing else any of them could do. I had sat with myself for a long time that day and figured out a plan that I have since put in motion. I have more good days now than bad, but it’s still tough. In addition to the things I mentioned above, I witnessed a person in immense pain on the floor in the fetal position, rocking back and forth on their hands and knees and screaming because of the pain. I had to assist a man that was sitting close to me who had a seizure because no one came out to help quickly despite our cries. FYI - his blood and drool were still on the floor hours later when I decided to leave. Mothers were told their children weren’t emergencies just because they were sick and that there was no room to put them in even if they were. I had to get a nurse for someone who was having a panic attack because of the pain that they were in while waiting to be triaged. I gave a mother suggestions to help her pre-schoolers ear pain because I have dealt with many ear infections and have tricks up my sleeve now, so to speak, and this was her first ever ear infection. Upon hearing another mother say how hungry she was, I ran out to the vending machine for her. Her child had been refused at urgent care in Baddeck and they were waiting at CBRH since. I watched family members waiting for hours on end for a paramedic to come tell them the patient they brought in hours ago finally has a bed. People sleeping and/or passing out. Coughing and hacking .. ugh, so much of that. Some even came with blankets and bags full of food and water. Awful isn’t even the word for it. I’m not even sure where our province can start to fix this, but it is way past due.
Sarah - Westmount
Several years ago my dad was septic and waited over 7 hours in the Glace Bay ER. He was dying, and only saved when it became life and death. It was pure neglect not recognizing the signs of sepsis. My parents are patient people and dont want to cause problems, but now you cant be like that and you need to advocate for yourself! This hits too close to home again, and it worries me for my family / friends.
Kerri - Glace Bay