Warning: This is going to be a difficult discussion and before we begin, we NEED to separate the idea of criticizing an absolutely trashed medical health system from trashing the heroes who bust their asses trying to make it work, and those that fall between, because we have to be real not all in scrubs are angels but that also isn’t what the point of this op-ed is. Though, there are side-effects.
Backstory: I am asthmatic, and suspect I had the Omi variat of Covid about 3-4 weeks ago. Suddenly, this Saturday, I got dizzy and couldn’t beath. What transpired amounts to a veritable circus of shit as I spent three afternoons in ER rooms across GTA from Saturday, January 22 to Tuesday, January 25, and it was a complete shit show, and not (only or even especially) for lack of the staff TRYING. Given their absolute exhaustion, frustration, and anger, it was definitely not a surprise that most, if not all, have started leaving their spirits at home, but let me get to that, what did exactly make it a shit show?
Let’s start with the immediate dead end (pun not unintended) there are zero beds, in admitting and in ER. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. No beds. No rooms. No space. Not for longterm, shortterm, or any kind of care, there is nowhere for you to go but home. Good luck! Well in Emergency, you are LUCKY if you get a “hall room” (meaning a cot in the open hall), and the rest have to make due in severely uncomfortable waiting rooms where social distancing and cleaning has long since been thrown out the window; there isn’t space and there isn’t staff, and the sick sure as heck aren’t getting up to wipe the seats down. And forget monitoring, whether in waiting area, a “hall room”, or the one few open rooms the doctors and nurses haven’t transformed into their own break rooms (or yeah, did I forget to mention that? Out of 10 rooms, you MAY see 5 being used for actual patients, likely because no one is around to sanitize, and I am being way too fair guessing 5, I think it was closer to 3). There are not enough working machines for any of that. Not a sincle working IV push anywhere. Come to think of it, the ONLY time I saw an IV bag anywhere was when the nurse shot me a new antibiotic and I had a bad reaction and needed a benadryl drip. You MAY get an ECG and a regular ole fashioned IV, MAYBE. But forget machines. X-rays are available, and those happened relatively quickly, expected for the second time when I just got “overlooked” and had to literally argue with the Doctor that I hadn’t had one… that aside, good luck getting a CT scan or any other potentially live saving tests. No one, and I mean not one single person is being hooked up continually to be monitored of any full time stats. This is in Toronto; one of the greatest cities for health care, no?!
I had mixed experiences on each visit, the first, we had called 911, I had a ER room to myself fairly quickly, but nothing much else monitoring wise, no x-ray, no covid testings, nada. I was given a presicription for Prednisone and sent home. The second visit, I drove into triage, where I (overheard) was labelled a ”repeater” because I had gone to ER two days in a row (doesn’t matter it had been 2 years before) and literally left sitting all day, ignored because they thought I was problematic for coming back. No, honey, I can’t fucking breath and I think I am dying and I am scared and my family is crying because we lost family VERY recently to this kind of shit. So maybe do your job, as exhausting as it is, and give me a goddamn CT Scan, and if still can’t find the cause, admit me so the Specialists CAN. I was left for an entire day in waiting room seats, unmonitored even though I had reported difficulty breathing and chest pains. I did get an X-ray this time. It showed infection. Still no covid testing, still no CT scan. Toss an anti-biotic in with that steriod and go home. When none of this improved anything, the third visit, 4 days altogether, was a 911 call again.
This was wear things got even weirder, and scary.
And, do not be shocked when they ask you for your vaccine status and separate you based on that (and we are okay with this, even if it means those greedy ignorant twats are taking up even MORE beds, before dying on them. And they are dying. On one of the evenings lounging in my “hall room” hoping I wouldn’t die due to the lack of monitoring or apparent care, I got to see not one but two unvaxxed Covid patients get wheeled into that elevator that only goes down… you know the one, to the Morgue. In any of the cases, each and every visit was horrible, scary, unhelpful, and left me absolutely sure there are far more people dying because of lack of care than we can even begin to guess.
Yes, we KNOW how over worked, understaffed, underpaid, underappreciated medical staff is, and we know they are fighting the pandemic and variants right along-side the rest of us. But, how much of that excuses the anger? the abuse? I heard one patient declare to a nurse, “You want us to die!” to which the nurse responded, “Yes, yes I do”, and later laughed as she retold another nurse who had just come on shift. I saw several obviously mentally ill patients go unchecked, uncared for, mocked even. Why weren’t they admitted to psych? They had no place being in ER. I am NOT attacking the medical people, but I do hope they find a way to cope, and that they also find a way to fight what is wrong here.
People are dying, and I don’t just mean Covid patients, I mean everyone around them who is not getting proper medical care, all those who SHOULD be admitted and are being sent home, so many needless deaths and no one wants to talk about it because we do not want to insult the nurses and Doctors. We KNOW it is not their fault – we KNOW this – but this conversation HAS to happen. Change HAS to happen, and fast.
We need rooms and available beds, we need admittance to be a thing that happens again. We need working machines. We need Hospitals to actually function as Hospitals. And if takes “more” money, SO FUCKING WHAT! Tax us. And anyone who wants to bitch can fuck right off out of the Country. We need to start saving lives, NOW.
I am ANGRY! Ironically, I got a survey back call from the one ER. I felt bad, as the lady and I nearly cried in frustration over this line, we want to praise the medical peeps, but we also know things are getting ugly and this is a literal hell. Seeing what I saw this week makes it HARD to praise though. Yes, someone went above and beyond still, I also saw one nurse handing out juice and sandwiches to those who could have them. She was literally the only one out of all 3 visits I saw doing anything remotely like that.
The paramedics in the ambulances were 1,000 x’s more attentive and caring.
I am still not okay, do not have an answer on why my system went bat shit crazy and I am on a fuck ton of expensive meds that may help or may just fuck me up more, I went 3 times and I got zero answers and still feel like I could die any moment, luckily my family doctor is on board with the situation now and I feel like there is SOME monitoring happening; however remote.
We need to fix this before we all die. And that isn’t me being hyperbolic. There IS no quality of health care, if something should happen to any of us right now, we are fucked. I don’t know where to start, what to do, what to say, who to say it to, etc etc and on it goes, but I know I can’t do it alone. But maybe, just maybe, we can stand together and demand Hospital reform and respite from this abysmal system.
I hope these words get to some important ears. I hope someone still sitting on the vaxxed fence get to understanding this isn’t just about them. I hope we live to see another day. A better one.
And I hope I get to see you again, my friends. I realize this may be a weak piece of writing for me, while I am still very heavily drugged, and very incredible weak, but I needed it out, now, in case there wasn’t another chance. We need Hospitals to be Hospitals again.
Still no covid test, either, btw.
What can we do?!
- Report complaints involving medical devices to Health Canada by calling toll-free at 1-800-267-9675, or by reporting online. Stay connected with Health Canada and receive the latest advisories and product recalls.
- Health Ontario Ombudsman https://www.ombudsman.on.ca/what-we-do/topics/health
- Health Ontario PATIENT Ombudsman https://www.patientombudsman.ca/