Man seeking answers after wife released from ER with stroke symptoms

·3 min read
Lori Toth was released from the ER at Lennox and Addington County General Hospital in June after displaying stroke symptoms.  (Mark Janes - image credit)
Lori Toth was released from the ER at Lennox and Addington County General Hospital in June after displaying stroke symptoms. (Mark Janes - image credit)

A Deseronto, Ont., man is frustrated after it took a doctor's appointment and multiple ER visits to learn his wife had had several mini strokes.

Mark Janes took his wife, Lori Toth, to the Lennox and Addington County General Hospital on June 13.

"She was dragging her leg and her speech was all messed up so I rushed her to [the hospital]," he said.

Janes said he wasn't allowed into the hospital because of COVID-19 protocols, so he waited in the car.

After about eight hours, Toth sent a text asking to be picked up.

"I went to the front door and got her and tried to have her explain to me what was going on and she really couldn't comprehend or couldn't speak or anything," he said.

Despite his concern, Janes said he trusted the hospital's decision to release Toth so he took her home.

Janes was able to get an appointment with their family doctor two days later when Toth's condition got worse.

They were advised to go to Kingston General Hospital immediately, where they waited another 13 hours before seeing an emergency room doctor.

It just boggles my mind that they would send somebody home in that condition - Mark Janes

"They took her for a test, came back and confirmed multiple mini strokes," Janes said.

Toth was admitted to the hospital for a week before transferring to Providence Care Hospital where she stayed another two weeks.

She returned home last week and Janes said she is doing better now, though she still suffers from short-term memory loss and a slight speech impediment.

While he's grateful for the care his wife received, Janes said he wishes they had more clarity about what happened at Lennox and Addington County General Hospital.

Janes reached out to the hospital for answers through their website but never got a response.

"It just boggles my mind that they would send somebody home in that condition," Janes said.

"She could have died and they just sent her out."

Health-care system under pressure 

Erin Brown, the patient relations lead at Lennox and Addington County Hospital, said the hospital can't provide specific information about patients.

She said system capacity is being stretched, which may have contributed to longer wait times in the emergency department.

Really advocating for yourself is so important and unfortunate. - Paige Lennox, Canadian Health Advocates Inc.

"There's no denying that our health-care system is under immense pressure," she said. "We are at historic highs for key indicators such as ambulance offload time. We are also seeing a higher volume of patients seeking care in the emergency department."

She also said that while patients are encouraged to attend ambulatory appointments and visits to the emergency department alone, they are allowed to have one visitor, if physical distancing can be maintained and caregivers are always allowed to accompany patients.

Patient advocacy needed now more than ever 

Paige Lennox, a registered nurse and the founder and CEO of Canadian Health Advocates Inc., said staff shortages, backed up emergency departments and a lack of beds are making experiences like Toth's more and more common.

"We don't want people to be discharged without proper resources in place or discharged prematurely," she said.

"So kind of taking a proactive approach, and really advocating for yourself is so important and unfortunate."

Lennox said one of the ways to do that is by getting in touch with the hospital's discharge planner, but she recognizes that's not always possible for patients to do on their own.

She said her team of 14 nurses across Canada work with patients to attend medical appointments, communicate with hospital staff and update their loved ones.

"We know what questions to ask and who to ask them to … and we know the lingo as well," she said.

Lennox recommends inviting a third-party to come along to appointments.

"It doesn't have to be one of us, it can be a family, or friend … even if it's just on a speakerphone."

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