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N.B. girl with broken wrist spends almost 19 hours in emergency waiting room

Click to play video: 'Six-year-old N.B. girl with broken wrist waits almost 19 hours in emergency room' Six-year-old N.B. girl with broken wrist waits almost 19 hours in emergency room
WATCH: As staffing shortages continue to wreak havoc on New Brunswick’s health-care system, wait times can remain high. As Suzanne Lapointe reports, a Moncton mother says she and her daughter waited in the ER for 18 hours with a broken wrist. – Apr 29, 2022

A New Brunswick mother is raising concerns after she says her young daughter waited nearly 19 hours in a hospital emergency room with a broken wrist.

Amber Thompson was at work around noon on Monday when she got a call from her daughter’s school that she had fallen off the slide in the playground. It was a drop of nearly two metres.

Thompson rushed to pick up six-year-old Athena, who had been given a makeshift sling for her injured arm.

They went straight to the emergency room at Moncton’s Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre, not knowing what to expect.

“The place was packed so I knew it was gonna be a little bit of a wait,” said Thompson.

Read more: COVID-19: N.B. nurses ‘struggling’ with physical and mental exhaustion, union says

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When the two first arrived to the hospital, Thompson said staff came briefly to look at Athena’s arm.

“They asked her if it hurt. She said, ‘yes,'” Thompson said of the conversation.

According to Thompson, staff gave “a quick look” and asked Athena to squeeze the staff member’s hand. Thompson said she couldn’t squeeze very hard. They were then sent to the waiting room.

“We were in there for 18 and a half hours.”

She said staff didn’t offer her daughter anything for the pain, or anything to prop up her injured arm.

“She’s very smiley, very outgoing, and she just kind of sat there. She looked very sad. You can see from the other patients that they felt sorry for her.”

Athena Gullison lays down on a bench at a waiting room in Moncton’s Georges-Dumont Hospital,. Submitted by Amber Thompson

Come Tuesday morning — after nearly 19 hours in the waiting room — Thompson’s boyfriend suggested they go to the city hospital instead.

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She weighed her options, not wanting to go through another hours-long wait. After having realized that not one patient in the room had been called for nearly 12 hours, they decided to leave.

“We got seen almost instantly,” she said of the second The Moncton Hospital, which is where they went next.

“We were in, registered, X-rayed. She got her cast on and we were out within two hours.”

Amber Thompson talks to Global News after her daughter spent more than 18 hours in a hospital waiting room. Global News

According to Thompson, the doctor said even before the X-ray, he could tell Athena’s wrist was broken.

This story comes as hospitals in the province have been battling staffing shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic and burnout.

Over the past few months, the Dumont has repeatedly asked the general public to avoid the emergency room when possible.

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A spokesperson from the Vitalité Health Network told Global News they were unable to comment on individual cases, refusing to answer questions about the severity of staffing shortages and other contributing factors to wait times.

Read more: N.B. battling health-care worker shortage amid latest COVID-19 wave

Meanwhile, the executive director of The Moncton Hospital, Christa-Wheeler Thorne, said there are currently nine unfilled registered nurse positions in its emergency room.

Public health has not responded to questions about the different factors contributing to wait times at both of Moncton’s hospitals.

While Thompson said her daughter handled the situation “like a champ,” she has lingering concerns.

“It was very disheartening and very frustrating,” she said, adding she felt there wasn’t much compassion from staff at Dumont.

“It makes me worry that in the future, if something happens, are we gonna have to wait again?”

Athena’s injury is now healing, and she will be checked again on Monday and have a new cast put on.

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