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[personal profile] trishkit
My grandmother had a stroke on Saturday. She is in no immediate danger, so I feel free to rant about healthcare. While I am eternally grateful for our Canadian healthcare system, I've got to say - it is certainly not a perfect system. Before I begin, let me just say that Grandma is perfectly alert and will make a good recovery - the only damage is to her right arm and leg.

Grandma has been stuck on a stretcher in the Emergency Ward since Saturday morning. There are simply no beds available. While the nursing staff are AMAZING, they struggled to deal with the crowds of skiers that jammed the ward all weekend and just plain couldn't assist with ongoing care for patients like Grandma. We live in a tourist area with an extremely popular ski resort. On Sunday there were so many people waiting that they were sitting on the floor behind the nurses' station waiting!

Need help with the bedpan or with eating because you are half-paralysed? Better hope that a family member is there to assist because the nurses simply do not have the time and there are no aides or assistants who can help. We had to have someone with her at all times to provide the simple dignities. The stretcher doesn't have a footrest and is partially raised during the day because she is very alert (indeed, she is very reluctant to close her eyes for even a second). Since there is no footrest she keeps slipping down the bed and hangs off the end. She doesn't have the strength to move herself back up, so she has to wait until someone is available to move her up. My aunt is a nurse and came as soon as she could, but until then it was just my dad and uncle (don't ask me why he didn't call my sister or I until the next day!!) As you can imagine, two middle-aged and doofy men weren't much help with things like bedpans and escaped as soon as they could. When my aunt arrived, she found Grandma lying in a pool of urine. She had been in that state for so long that she was cold and shivering. She was surrounded by people and medical staff, but they weren't able to get to her. I am in no way blaming the staff! There is no question that they had their hands full and they certainly have the desire to do everything in their power to help. There just aren't enough staff to go around during the busy periods.

Believe it or not, the most help came from my cousin's wife's brother's sister-in-law, who happened to be a nurse on another ward. She came after her shift that first day and was invaluable. All of this was arranged by said cousin who lives across the country in British Columbia!!!! Once Aunt Mary arrived, things went much more smoothly. Just the same, she got up this morning at 2am and went back to the hospital and found Grandma in need of assistance again (I won't go into the whole "pyschic link" and other more interesting beliefs held by my auntie here, but I am sure not doubting them today).

Aunt Mary took a much-needed break as Dad and I went in to visit for a while. It was a different scene today. Yes, Grandma was still in Emergency, but the pace was much slower. There were many more familiar faces around and only one person waiting for treatment. As I write, Grandma is safely in a room with a proper bed and a higher level of care. Just the same, we will still need to provide assistance with bathing and feeding (although I think she'll be able to eat on her own). The sad fact is that our much-vaunted healthcare system is suffering from a lack of funding and it seems that the many cutbacks result in the elimination of more nursing positions as well as the extinction of any type of personal care aide. Even our popular region of beaches and ski hills has a shortage of doctors, I can only imagine how bad it is in less attractive or remote areas. Nursing wages are pathetic, as a result many leave to go on to better opportunities.

On the positive side, every nurse I've ever met has been extremely dedicated and caring (Exhibit A: the aforementioned previously unknown cousin's wife's etc., etc. who helped out on her own time). I also sold a boat last summer to a newly minted doctor who is just so darn excited about being a doctor that it gives you hope for the future (he happens to work in Emergency but was not on duty this weekend). All of his little doctor friends are the same. It is quite adorable. Plus, we are extremely lucky to even HAVE public healthcare. I just wish that we could all get off of our asses and make it work better. Things have been getting worse for years. For some reason politicians of all stripes seem to think that cutting funding will fix the problem by making everything run more efficiently.

No, I don't understand it either.

Anyways, Grandma won't ever be the same, but she will be just fine (if you know what I mean). We aren't a large family, but we know how to pull together, Plus, we've been through this exact same scenario with my Dad's stroke a few years ago, so everyone knows what to expect.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-03-06 01:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mylittleredgirl.livejournal.com
UM. WTF. That's just... that's freaking crazy!

The Canadian healthcare system is kind of odd. When I was a kid and still in Canada, I was hospitalized for approx 8 weeks a year for observation and what-have-you... and then never kept overnight as soon as I moved to the states. Ever. They'd drug me, keep me in observation in the ER for a few hours, and send me home. Perhaps they are still keeping 8000 people in hospitals for unnecessary observation and that is why there are no nurses left??

Anyway, THE MIND BOGGLES, and your family is so super awesome for pitching in and helping and doing what you can instead of, I don't know, suing people. Good luck to you all and your grandma.

*love*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-03-07 12:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trishkit.livejournal.com
Hi there! They try to hoof you out of the hospital as soon as they can. I think you only get to stay one night when you have a baby.

It was actually the same when my dad had his stroke about 8 years ago. He was at a much bigger hospital in the city due to his condition, but we still had to be there to help feed him at mealtimes until he recovered more. it has been like this for a long time!

Thanks for your kind thoughts!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-03-06 08:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] suzvoy.livejournal.com
Gah.

Best to you and your Grandma, hon.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-03-07 12:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trishkit.livejournal.com
Thank you! She's doing much better now that she has a room and some peace and quiet.

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