Cancer patient waits 5 hours for ambulance transfer
Published Thursday, June 3, 2010 3:00PM PDT
B.C.'s Minister of Health is apologizing to the family of an elderly cancer patient after the Burnaby man was left waiting hours for a hospital transfer.
Jim Milton has spent the past two months recovering from spinal cancer surgery at Burnaby Hospital. The 75-year-old also needs dialysis three times a week, but he has to go to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster to get it.
Last week, after one of his treatments, a nurse called his wife Tilly saying that Jim had been waiting for the ambulance transfer for two hours and needed insulin and food.
"I quickly hopped in the car onto the freeway and off I went, only to wait another 3 hours with him there," Tilly told CTV News.
Jim, who'd finished his treatment at 4 p.m., didn't get back to Burnaby Hospital until 10 p.m.
"I am very, very angry. It's totally insane. I cannot believe it, I am just so angry with that (Gordon) Campbell."
Health Minister Kevin Falcon apologized to the Miltons on behalf of the B.C. Ambulance Service, and said the long wait was just a blip -- there were more urgent calls that day.
"I understand the other nine times in the month that he was transferred over for dialysis treatment it was all within a reasonable time frame," Falcon said.
But the paramedics' union fears that planned cuts to the transfer fleet in July will make an already strained system even worse.
"People like her will wait even longer because the emergency fleet is already maxed over the limit that they can actually do. The sad part is, those people are going to be left behind," paramedic Christina Plant said.
The government says the demand for ambulance transfers has dropped 33 per cent in the past two years in the Lower Mainland. Any gap in services, they say, will be filled by other providers.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Leah Hendry