London, Ont. man in hospital in St. Catharines after ‘nightmare’ in Mexico

Stuart Cline, 71, is seen on vacation in Mexico before his medical emergency. via London West MPP Peggy Sattler

A London, Ont., man who was admitted to hospital in Mexico last week after he fell and hit his head while out for a walk is back in Canada.

The family of Stuart Cline has confirmed to 980 CFPL the 71-year-old returned to Canada early Thursday morning and is in hospital in critical condition at St. Catharines General Hospital. The family declined to comment further, saying they wanted to stay by his side.

Cline’s daughter-in-law, Alejandra, said on Wednesday that Cline had trouble breathing last week while out for a walk with his wife in Puerto Vallarta. He fell and hit his head last Wednesday. The fall left him with bleeding in his brain, which was worsened because he has a pacemaker and is on blood thinners.

READ MORE: London, Ont. man stranded in Mexico hospital due to lack of Ontario hospital beds, family says

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“The bleeding in his brain was getting bigger and bigger,” she explained to 980 CFPL’s Andrew Lawton. “So doctors decided to do a surgery to start draining the blood out of his brain.”

Alejandra is originally from Mexico and flew out over the weekend to help with the situation, while Stuart’s three adult children, including her husband, remained home. She said that while the surgery went well, Stuart’s heart is weak and his condition is now deteriorating.

Doctors in Mexico cleared him to fly home on Saturday, but when the family contacted their insurance company, they were told there were no intensive care unit beds available in London.

READ MORE: Overcrowding concerns continue at London Health Science Centre

“They say ‘No, we don’t have beds, call tomorrow,’ and ‘We don’t have beds, call tomorrow.’ We said, ‘He just needs a bed, it doesn’t have to be London, but they said they can’t do that,” Alejandra said.

The family described the red tape preventing the man from returning home for treatment as a “nightmare.”

Alejandra shared the family’s plight in an email to London West NDP MPP Peggy Sattler, who questioned Premier Kathleen Wynne at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.

“Today is the fifth day that Stuart has been waiting to come home while his condition deteriorates,” Sattler said in the legislature. “Why is this premier doing nothing to address (hospital overcrowding)?”

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READ MORE: London MPP raising concerns about overcrowding in Ontario hospitals

Wynne expressed her concern for the family and noted that the newly appointed minister of health would speak to the case.

Helena Jaczek, who was appointed health minister this week after Eric Hoskins abruptly resigned, responded:

“I want to assure the family in this case that my staff has been fully engaged in helping co-ordinate this individual’s return home and to make the full service of Ontario’s health-care system completely available to this family.”

Jaczek’s office hasn’t responded to a request for comment from 980 CFPL.

This is not the first time this week that hospital overcrowding has been brought up by Sattler in the legislature. On Tuesday, Sattler raised the stories of two other Londoners impacted by overcrowding.

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