Health ministry looking into 4-year waits for neurologists at Kingston hospital

The Ministry of Health and Long-term care has been meeting with leadership at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) in hopes of gaining a better understanding of why it’s taking so long for patients to get neurology consultations at the hospital.

“Ensuring the lowest possible wait times for all parts of our health-care system is a key priority, particularly including referrals from general practitioners to specialists,” explained Laura Gallant, a spokesperson for the ministry.

This comes on the heels of a Kingston family physician who went public last week after one of her patients was told they’d have to wait 4.5 years to see a specialist. She took to social media to share her concerns and says she was dumbfounded when she received a referral letter from KGH.

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“The longest wait time I had seen previous to that was about two years. Sometimes a little longer than two years but I hadn’t seen anything in this category,” Dr. Joy Hataley said.

Hataley is concerned patients are waiting too long to receive medical treatment.

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“Our whole system is about waits, you wait for the next consult your doctor’s waiting for the other doctor’s opinion, then they’re waiting to hear back from the pharmacist when you’re waiting for a test,” said Hataley.

Meanwhile, a Kingston-area family is worried that the long waits are jeopardizing the health of their son.

Curtis Brown, 23, was born with hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid collects on the brain. He also lives with autism and is epileptic. Over the years he’s been closely monitored by neurologists. But that changed when he turned 18 and was discharged from the Child Development Centre at Kingston’s Hotel Dieu Hospital.

 “I’ve been fighting for Curtis since day one … trying to keep him in the system without having him bumped out,” his mother, Nancy Mustard, said.
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Mustard says her son is now experiencing complications and is being told he’ll have to wait six years to see a neurologist.
When Mustard’s son was only 14 days old, he underwent a medical procedure to put a shunt in his brain which drains fluid but now he’s experiencing indents in his head, and Mustard is concerned it may have something to do with that same procedure he experienced as a newborn.
“What happens if all of a sudden the shunt does malfunction and he’s having major issues and he could die.”
 Mustard says she hopes something is done about wait times soon, worried that her son’s life may hang in the balance.
As for Hataley, she continues to speak out about the issue on social media, in hopes the ministry addresses the issue at hand, that there simply aren’t enough specialists in Kingston.

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