A Gatineau woman has died after spending several hours in pain, lying on the floor of the Hull Hospital emergency department, leaving her family distraught and demanding change.
Anne Pommainville, 58, went to the hospital in Gatineau, Que., on the evening of June 27, but was unable to sit on a waiting room chair due to extreme stomach pain.
Hospital staff told Pommainville and her husband, Jacques Richard, that her only option was to create a makeshift bed on the floor using blankets.
I will remember that night all my life. I will never forget her. - Jacques Richard, husband of Anne Pommainville
"She did not deserve that," said Richard in an interview with Radio-Canada.
"I will remember that night all my life. I will never forget her."
After she waited for hours on the floor, Richard decided to take Pommainville to wait in the car. He then went back and forth between the parking lot and the emergency department to ensure he heard her name called to see a doctor.
Eventually, she did see a doctor and was later transferred to the Gatineau Hospital for surgery.
However, her family said they didn't know she had been transferred until June 29 — almost 48 hours later — when hospital staff called Richard to tell him his wife's heart stopped and staff could not revive her.
Veronique Richard said her family doesn't blame the hospital workers for how her aunt was treated, but rather the continued staffing shortages at hospitals in Gatineau.
"To see that we have people lying on the floor in a waiting room in intense pain because there is no stretcher, because there is no room, because they are overwhelmed," she said.
"The goal is not to throw stones at employees, nurses, attendants, administrative officers, doctors. ... They work under ridiculous conditions."
Patient advocate Paul Brunet said Pommainville was not treated with dignity.
"I've been a spokesperson for almost 25 years. I've rarely seen that in a hospital in the west, in Canada, in Quebec, that we haven't been able to find a single stretcher and a single bed," said Brunet.
Health unit launches investigation
The local health unit, Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO), said it has launched an internal investigation.
"Our thoughts are first with the family and loved ones of this lady," the local health unit wrote in a statement that said they were "concerned about this situation."
"We are doing everything we can to understand what happened and to prevent this kind of situation from happening again."