Retired registered nurse Connie Jones has more questions than answers about the state of the health care system after her recent experience at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.
Connie was in her hospital gown ready to be wheeled in to get a new hip on Friday, March 3 when suddenly her surgery was cancelled.
She was told the reason that her surgery, along with 14 others, had been cancelled was because the surgical suction and ventilation equipment was out of order.
“It was the most stressful thing I have ever been through because I know the system and have worked in it,” said Connie.
Since she was already in Kamloops, Connie asked her surgeon if she could have the surgery done on Monday when the equipment would be back up and running. But she was told that he couldn’t rearrange his schedule to accommodate her.
This left her in a quandary because her husband, Keith, had driven her to Kamloops and had returned to work in Williams Lake, expecting to pick her up after her hospital stay.
Since it was the hospital’s fault the surgery had been cancelled she insisted the hospital get her back home again. She was taken back home to Williams Lake by taxi.
Connie said she hasn’t heard from either her surgeon or the hospital about when her surgery might be rescheduled.
“It is very frustrating at 65 years old after working in the health care system and paying into the system for 30 years,” Connie said. “This is not good enough.”
While picking up her suitcases from her hospital room Connie said she saw patients parked on beds in the hospital hallways and was told that part of the reason for the long waits for hip and knee surgery is because long-term care patients are occupying acute care beds.
“I am more concerned about the fact that acute care beds are being taken up with long-term care patients who have nowhere else to go,” Connie said.
Unsure now about how long it will take to have her surgery rescheduled, Connie said she is also investigating possibilities for having her surgery done at a private clinic in Kamloops. She said she was told by a friend who had a hip replaced at the clinic in Kamloops that the cost would only be $350 over and above her health care coverage.
Frustrated with the whole health care system, Connie wrote a letter expressing her concerns which she sent to the Tribune and presented to Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett in a meeting Friday.
After her meeting with Connie, Barnett said she immediately forwarded Connie’s letter to the minister of health.
Barnett said she would also be following up on her case to learn why the surgery was cancelled, and when Connie can expect the surgery to be rescheduled. Barnett said she would also look into how private clinics providing hip and knee surgery are funded.
She said the new federal/provincial funding agreement for health care has allowed the province to develop a good health care plan for B.C. that includes the development of new long-term care beds.
She said the 70 new long-term care beds approved for Williams Lake and 14 new long-term care beds approved for 100 Mile House are expected to be in place by 2018, which should ease some of the pressure on acute care hospitals.
In the meantime Jones is in constant pain waiting for her hip replacement.
She is hoping the surgery will be sooner, rather than later, because she is waiting until after the surgery to make a trip to New Zealand to see her two young grandchildren.
Connie and Keith lived in New Zealand for five years before moving to Williams Lake with their young son and daughter in 1988.
Connie worked as a registered nurse at Cariboo Memorial Hospital and Keith started Kiwi Fencing.
Connie worked in maternity for 15 years before retiring on a disability pension in 2003.
She had her right hip replaced four years ago and is now waiting for her left hip to be replaced.
Sept. 14, 2016 she met with her surgeon in Kamloops and was told there would be an eight to 10 month wait for the surgery but the March 3 date opened earlier than expected. Now she has no idea how long it will take to have her surgery.
“There is nothing healthy or caring about the health care system,” Connie said.
“The system needs fixing and Ottawa needs to know that. I’m sure there are lots of other horror stories that haven’t been told yet.”
The Tribune has also forwarded questions about the situation to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.