'You’re torturing her': Labrador couple says their daughter wasn't allowed to board a medevac after being run over by a snowmobile

Kaysha Jenkins crying in pain while her mother Wilma Jenkins comforts her. - Contributed

Wilma and Conrad Jenkins didn’t expect to be with their daughter Kaysha Jenkins in a hospital room after she was seriously injured in a snowmobile accident on Jan. 22, 2024.

The family says their experience with the health-care system, and the long wait they had for a medevac flight in the following days, was horrific and painful for their 17-year-old daughter.

“Monday night (around 10 p.m.), Jan. 22, she got into a Ski-Doo accident when she was riding around with her friends," says Wilma.

Kaysha was on a kamutik – a wooden sled pulled behind a snowmobile.

"She ended up falling off, and the Ski-Doo behind her was too close,” says Wilma.

Kaysha Jenkins' jeans. Conrad Jenkins says they were ripped by the snowmobile that ran her over. - Contributed - Contributed

The snowmobile behind Kaysha was operated by a 12- or 13-year-old. What happened over the next few days was a harrowing experience for the family.


“We took probably around 15 minutes to get down to the clinic. They transferred her to a stretcher and brought her into the emergency room,” says Wilma.


The family says there was a doctor in Nain at the time.

“The nurse didn’t even call the doctor in. The only reason he found out was because we were still in the emergency room, and he just so happened to stick his head in the next morning,” says Conrad.

Wilma says she knew something was broken.

Nain doesn’t have an X-ray machine, so they had no way of finding out for sure, or how extensive her daughter's injuries were.


The family says their pleas for a medevac fell on deaf ears.

“On Jan. 22, I did mention that to the nurse, that there’s high winds the next day. And I asked them to call for a medevac. But it was up to the doctor on call in Goose Bay, and he wanted to try a few things to see if anything was broken,” says Conrad.

Kaysha Jenkins laying on a recliner in Nain as she couldn't get a hospital bed. - Contributed

Kaysha was asked to stand up, which she managed to do while in agonizing pain, says Conrad.


“It was like we were asking for help, and it was falling on deaf ears,” says Wilma.


Kaysha had to spend the night of Jan. 22 in Nain.

“First night was a really rough night. There was a trauma nurse there. I think she waited 'til I stepped out and then sat her up in the bed,” says Wilma.

She says Kaysha managed to sit up with her feet dangling on the side of the bed, in a lot of pain.

Kaysha Jenkins as she was forced to sit up by a trauma nurse in Nain. Her mother Wilma Jenkins says the nurse did this when Wilma Jenkins left to use the washroom. - Contributed

Among many of Kaysha’s problems was blood in her urine. Wilma feared internal bleeding.


The next day, on Jan. 23, the family says medical staff tried to send Kaysha home, even though she was in immense pain.

“I kept saying, ‘I don’t think we should take her home. How are we going to take her home, she’s in so much pain. We can’t manage,'” says Wilma.

Conrad adds that it seemed like staff had their minds made up "that nothing was broke.”


Wilma says they had no choice but to take Kaysha home, a painful and ultimately unsuccessful endeavour.

They tried to get her on a snowmobile – an attempt that left their daughter in agony – but, among many concerns, the snowmobile was too high.

The family then tried taking Kaysha to the hospital and getting her onto a stretcher, then onto a kamutik to take her home.

“She was sitting down, and she had to lay back so we can get her on the stretcher. When she laid back, she was screaming in pain. They kept saying she’s stable and they don’t think anything is broken," Wilma says.

She questions why medical staff thought her daughter was stable.


“The tears were falling down my face and I said, ‘You’re torturing her, you’re f--king torturing her'."

Kaysha had to stay at the hospital, and without a bed, she had to sleep on a recliner.


Kaysha had to spend another night in Nain. Kaysha didn’t have a catheter, Wilma says, meaning that using the bathroom was a painful maneuver onto and off of a wheelchair.

The next morning, on Jan. 24, the family once again requested a medevac. The doctor’s response left the family in shock.

Kaysha Jenkins with her family. Kaysha Jenkins is second from left. - Contributed

“The doctor said, ‘We can give you a medevac, but it’s going to be until Saturday 'til we can even get you out,’” says Wilma.


The family instead left Nain on a schedevac – the hospital flight that routinely runs Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays – on Wednesday, Jan. 24 and travelled to Goose Bay.


That hospital flight, however, wasn’t able to accommodate a stretcher.

“We did get her on the hospital flight, which was torture for Kaysha. She had to get back on the stretcher, pivot herself when we finally did get her standing to get on the straight back chair on the twin otter, then from that she had to pivot and go into a regular airplane seat,” says Wilma.

Wilma is emotional when she discusses the plane from Nain to Goose Bay.

Kaysha Jenkins had to sit in a regular passenger seat as she flew from Nain to Goose Bay. - Contributed

“It hurts really bad, it’s like cutting your heart out and ripping it to pieces, because you can’t do nothing," she says.


"If there was a way to take her pain and transfer it to me, I would’ve done it. I just held her hand and told her it’s going to be alright."


When they landed in Goose Bay, doctors first wanted an ultrasound. Kaysha was in too much pain to lie down for it. With excruciating pain, she managed to get an X-ray.

“They found out her pelvis was broken. It’s supposed to be closed. It was open in the front, and open in the back,” says Wilma.

Kaysha was going to have to get a medevac to St. John’s.

“The doctor in Goose Bay that signed off on her medevac came and told us province-wide, Kaysha’s number two on the medevac priority list," Conrad says.

"Once the surgeon in St. John’s reviewed it, he bumped it up to number one.”


After a weather delay, Kaysha was in the air. Both her parents were allowed on the flight, and they arrived in St. John’s at 4 a.m. on Jan. 26.

Wilma says what happened in Nain was unacceptable.

“There are nurses that do care. But we have a lot of travel nurses that are just like get in, do your job and leave," Wilma says.

"But there’s nurses that are genuinely caring. We need to be taken more seriously. People seem to forget that we exist sometimes.

“We need more eyes on what happens on the north coast. It’s sad, but that’s how it is. There’s so much that needs to be done."


Lela Evans, the NDP MHA for Torngat Mountains, says the system needs to change. Evans says, "I'm lost for words, I honestly don't know how this can happen. It feels like a third world country."She wants to see change, but wants answers for the family. She says, "I want to know why Kaysha was left in Nain with internal bleeding and broken bones."

Kaysha Jenkins at the Janeway. - Contributed


Kaysha is now recovering at the Janeway in St. John’s. Wilma says talking about that brings her to tears every time.

“We just got her report card, actually. She’s a straight-A student. She’s planning on being a teacher or something to do with kids," Wilma says.

"She’s getting better. It’s all uphill from now. They said six to eight weeks until she’s recovered. She got big plans. She has a bright future ahead of her."

Conrad adds, “She’s pushing herself really well."


Sanuda Ranawake is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous and rural issues.

Sanuda Ranawake, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram