'Shocked' family says Cape Breton woman died after leaving busy emergency department

SYDNEY, N.S. — The family of a 67-year-old Cape Breton woman says she died at home after waiting seven hours without seeing a doctor and deciding to leave the emergency department.

Katherine Snow says her mother-in-law, Charlene Snow, went to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital on the afternoon of Dec. 30 with jaw pain and flu-like symptoms, and was triaged by a nurse.

She says the 67-year-old left the hospital after giving up on seeing a doctor and assuming she would have better luck at the nearby Northside Urgent Treatment Centre the next morning.

The daughter-in-law says the family believes the death can be linked to overcrowding of the hospital system and to lack of staffing.

Snow has created a website that expresses her family's sadness and anger, and she is using the site to publish other families' stories of difficult experiences with the province's health system.

The case comes on the heels of the death of 37-year-old Allison Holthoff, who waited more than six hours in the emergency department in Amherst, N.S., before she was taken to a room inside the unit.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2023.

The Canadian Press