A son is demanding an apology from the Ontario government after his father died in a St. Catharines hospital following a nearly week-long wait for a bed in a local intensive care unit.
As 71-year-old Stuart Cline languished in a Mexico hospital after a fall that caused bleeding in his brain, his son, David Cline, said the family didn’t get a single call from the Ministry of Health.
“I took that as an insult,” he told 980 CFPL’s Craig Needles Show Monday morning.
“What compounded the problem, the health minister [Helena Jaczek], for her not taking responsibility for the problem, made it much worse.”
Cline said Jaczek tried to “pass the buck,” by blaming insurance companies instead.
“The insurance company made multiple phone calls in different cities, so it’s totally not true,” he said.
In a statement to 980 CFPL, Helena Jaczek sent her “deepest condolences to the Cline family,” but said that “travel insurers must work with our health care system, as patients abroad rely on their due diligence to engage our robust network of hospitals here at home.”
Stuart Cline was vacationing with his wife in Puerto Vallarta when he fell on Feb. 21. His condition was worsened because he was already on blood thinners and required a pacemaker, and his son said he was sedated in order to stabilize his condition for travel.
On Feb. 24, doctors in Mexico cleared Cline for the trip home.
“For some reason as a family, we expected him to be going back right away.”
But as the days passed with no word of an available bed, the Cline family’s optimism dwindled, and David Cline flew to join his father, his mother, and his wife, Alejandra.
“We didn’t want complications to develop, so they kept him in that stable condition, all the time thinking we’re going Saturday, we’re going Sunday, we’re going Monday. Perhaps if we knew we weren’t going until Wednesday, we could have maybe started that process that needed to be done.”
Stuart Cline arrived at a hospital in St. Catharines early on March 1st. He died two days later, leaving his son to wonder if more immediate action could have saved his father’s life.
Jeff Yurek, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, says they won’t ever be sure.
“With medicine, you never really know how one would go further down the road with their recovery,” he said.
“However, you’d want every single opportunity for someone to access the health care system in Ontario, and the government failed to provide that.”
Yurek calls Cline’s death a tragedy, and says the family deserves the apology they’re asking for.
“This is the result of this Liberal government underfunding of our hospital system, which is affecting people’s access to health care,” he said.
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