A Regina mother was forced to wait nearly 20 hours in the emergency room with her four-year-old daughter after they were told there was no space for her in the pediatric unit.
Janna Pratt said her daughter Jream, suffers from seizures as a result of brain cancer and five malignant tumours. Sunday, she was rushed to the Regina General Hospital by ambulance after a 30-minute seizure hindered her ability to breathe.
When they arrived at 3 a.m., the airlift crew said they would not be available to take Jream to Saskatoon until 8 a.m., delaying her travel by five hours.
“Miraculously she started breathing on her own,” said Pratt. “Once she started breathing on her own, things kind of went up in the air.”
Pratt said they waited for 20 hours in the emergency room.
“In the 20 hours that we waited, we were very rarely checked on. I came in the ambulance with her not prepared. I had to ask. I had no diapers, I had to ask the emergency staff to change her after 12 hours of her sitting in her soaking wet diaper. I had to make sure they were going to feed her.”
By the time Pratt and her daughter were brought up to the ward, nurses were already caring for six or seven children each.
“They weren’t able to give the quality of care that they felt they felt those children deserved.”
What’s more, Pratt said she felt like they were discharged too soon, so the ward could bring in other kids. Thursday, Jream was rushed from daycare back to emergency by ambulance.
“Again, we are waiting for a bed in emergency,” said Pratt through tears, “and I’m tired, I’m tired of constantly having to fight for her.”
“I talk with the doctors; I’m there seeing and witnessing this on the front line. The doctor today was telling me that they need more help, they need more support.”
“We’ve got nurses there, nurses that we rely on to look after everyone in need and they can’t be burning out. We need to care for them as much as they care for our children,” pleaded Pratt. “This government needs to do better.”
National medication shortages have also made it difficult for Pratt to get her daughters seizure medications. Children that are suffering from fevers and non-urgent illnesses are taking up hospital beds in emergency spaces because they aren’t able to get their hands on products like Tylenol and Advil.
“I think we need to be looking at any and all solutions to get that pain medication into pharmacies,” said Health Critic Vicky Mowat. “Getting it into hospital is one thing but getting it into pharmacies is really important and crucial.”
Mowat said she would like to see more reporting to the public about the status of medication shortages.
“If you think about what we did when we had access to vaccines for the first time, that’s the realm that I’m thinking of in terms of communicating with the public on where we are on this instead of remaining silent or pointing fingers.”
Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman recommends that families call 811 for guidance if their children are sick. He hopes that this will give parents other options than immediately going to emergency and taking up a bed with a non-emergency case.
“We want to make sure that the right people are going to the right places in the health-care system because there are some challenges right now,” said Merriman.
He said he understands that parents are scared right now and might not know what to do without proper medication available, however, he is encouraging people to ensure that the next necessary stop really is the emergency room before they arrive.
Merriman explained that the current medication shortage lies with the federal government and is the result of a labeling issue.
“I’m a little frustrated that we don’t have this, because this is the season when we need this, I’m disappointed that the families of Saskatchewan don’t have this because of something small like a labelling issue.”
The federal government is hoping to have a three-month supply of children’s medication on the ground in Canada within the next two to three weeks.
In the meantime, Medicine Shoppe in Saskatoon said that desperate parents can turn to them for help.
Owner and pharmacist, Courtney Junop said that their pharmacy has the ability compound or make ibuprofen and acetaminophen products from scratch.
“We are doing, usually, a case-by-case basis for each individual patient so cost can be a little bit more. However, we do try to keep it, especially with acetaminophen and ibuprofen right now, we are trying to keep it as economic as possible for patients,” said Junop.
She explained that the demand has been extremely high for the lab recently.
“We have been swamped since day one. This location opened November 1st and we have been flooded with requests for children’s tylenol, acetaminophen as well as ibuprofen so we’ve been running as hard as we can to keep up with the demand.”
Junop said they are more than happy to help parents find medication for their children in a crisis like this.
“Compounding is a huge part of what we do and why we do it, so we’re very happy when patients come in and they may have been in emergency for six or eight hours and we can give them a simple wait of 10 minutes, we’ll have you looked after.”