A Regina mother says her four-year-old daughter, who had a seizure caused by brain cancer, spent nearly 20 hours in an emergency room bed waiting for a bed in the pediatric unit to open up.
"The emergency department was completely packed," Janna Pratt said. "Not only that, it was completely packed by people who were sick … and people who were seeking a warming centre."
Pratt's daughter, Jream, was rushed to the Regina General Hospital (RGH) by ambulance at about 2 a.m. CST on Monday.
Earlier in the night Jream had been sleeping when Pratt noticed her daughter's breathing was irregular. The strange breathing led to one of the worst seizures Pratt has seen her daughter have.
Jream was born with brain cancer and has five malignant tumours that cause her to have seizures, Pratt said.
This time, the medication Pratt administers for the seizures didn't work and, with Jream's breathing getting worse, Pratt called an ambulance.
Once at the hospital, Jream was put into a bed in the emergency department and doctors nearly intubated her before she started breathing on her own, Pratt said.
Pratt says doctors wanted Jream, who is considered medically complex, admitted to a pediatric bed for observation.
"As we were waiting all you could hear was crying babies or sick kids coughing," Pratt said.
"I've never seen so many kids in emergency. We've spent time in emergency before, but I've never seen kids at those numbers."
Pratt said staff told her the Jim Pattison Children's Hospital in Saskatoon, where Pratt and Jream are ambassadors, was full.
"I've never heard of children's hospitals being that full," Pratt said, adding she was told there were no pediatric beds in Regina, either.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority did not immediately provide information on emergency room wait times or pediatric hospital bed availability.
However, Dr. Brian Geller, an emergency room physician at the RGH, said that as of 8 a.m. CST Tuesday, 21 patients who had been admitted still didn't have beds. An additional 31 patients were still waiting to be seen by an ER doctor, Geller said.
"It is at the point where the volumes have been so high for so long that people just don't notice," he said
However, he added, non-urgent cases are not what's clogging emergency rooms.
"It's the inability to move people to where they should be — either on the ward, into LTC [long-term care] or back to the community with good support," Geller said.
Almost left emergency due to lack of care
Pratt said that by Monday evening, she was considering taking her daughter home.
"They wanted to observe her, but she had ripped off all of her cords by then, and nobody even came in to reattach them, you know, to make sure she was stabilized. Nobody checked on us," she said.
"We kept getting forgotten about in emergency — like nobody changed her diaper. We had to request for juice and drinks. I had to request to even get time off to go to the bathroom."
Pratt said a bed was found and Jream was admitted to the pediatric ward at about 9 p.m. CST.
After witnessing the number of sick children at the RGH emergency department, Pratt said more needs to be done to curb the spread of illness.
"I would like to see another mask mandate to tell you the truth," she said.