May 27th, 2020

To: Queensway Carleton Hospital complaint department
From: Lorrain McEwen
Sent by email
20 Chesterton Drive
Nepean, Ontario
K2E 6Z7

On May 24th, at 2:00 p.m, I yelled at a nurse, yes I did; I was trying to get a bed for my son, William McEwen, to lie on in emergency while he was writhing in agony unable to sit or stand—she called security on me.
I understand that they are under a great deal of stress, but we all have stress in our lives and it’s made worse when you are not getting the proper care. Is it just me that thinks part of a nurse’s job would include compassion and empathy in those circumstances?
We made the difficult decision in these times, to go to the hospital because he wasn’t able to stand, or sit, without the pain increasing to above a number on any pain level chart anywhere in the world. A sharp stabbing, continuous pain in the worst kind of way. You see, four days ago he required emergency surgery in the very same emergency room. He probably waited too long to go back in, but he was told there would be some pain in healing and so he waited it out. There was immediate relief after the surgery but then each day it got worse, until today; when I saw him writhing in pain on the floor because that’s the only position where he could get some relief, I knew something was wrong.
I went as far as the nurses first station inside the door with him to be sure he was in before I drove him away. He asked for a cot to lie on because he couldn’t stand or sit the pain was agonizing and he needed to lie down. And he was denied. Sorry the intake nurse said, there are no cots available. He said “Then I’ll have to lie on the floor” bent over and wincing with pain as he said it. “I wouldn’t advise that”, the nurse said, and followed with “If you want to be seen, you had better go in, there are people behind you.” No empathy or compassion or willingness to help was shown at all.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My son said goodbye to me, and I asked him what he was going to do, he said “lie on the floor.” What else could he do?
The intake nurse asked my name, I told her and that I was his mother and I heard that you wouldn’t give him something to lie on. “He’s a grown man, he can advocate for himself.” Yes, of course he can, I said: when he’s not in 100 percent worth of pain! I can’t believe you can’t find him a cot to lie on. Her reply was that they had none. So if I came in and fainted right here and now, or had a heart attack standing right here, what would the hospital do? She said “I don’t deserve to be talked to like that.” Like what? I didn’t scream, I didn’t call her names or swear at her. I told her that I’m upset because my son has to lie on the floor when he’s in so much pain. She then told me she was calling security? I was shocked. Why? I asked.
“Because you are not respecting me.” Are you kidding me? What about respecting the person writhing on the floor from pain.
Before I left, I asked her if she knew what it was like to be in that much pain, and explained that I was his mother. Then I asked her if she had children, did she know what it was like to see your son or daughter in pain. She replied, “he’s a grown man”. ??
Does that make his pain any less, or the love I have for him any less? I asked. She simply called security. This is unbelievable. I couldn’t understand–this is Canada. I get that there’s a health crisis for Covid-19 but we are told by the experts that there is still care for the rest of us—I didn’t see it today.
I left the hospital disheartened before security showed up, unnecessarily. I went to the parking lot and prayed for my son. I had the idea that I would call the hospital and talk to the team lead for the emergency department. Surely they wouldn’t leave him on the floor. I spoke with ‘J. Jenkins”. I explained who I was and why I was calling, pleading with her to help my son get him somewhere that he could lie down. She must have been apprised of the situation because she said “you don’t understand, there is nowhere for him to lie down?” I was exasperated, “so he has to lie on the floor?”
“He’s CHOOSING to lie on the floor.” She said.
I asked her to put herself in his position for just one minute: “what if you were in so much pain that you couldn’t lie or sit and someone told you that it was your own choice to lie on the floor.”
“I wouldn’t make that choice; I would withstand the pain of sitting on a chair.” So basically she thinks he’s over reacting.
I’m complaining to the wrong person, I thought to myself. She either can’t or isn’t going to help me. But I think that a little empathy and compassion wouldn’t have hurt. Maybe there are no beds available for heart attack victims? Maybe if I fainted they would have left me there.
Later, when I picked my son up from the hospital, he told me that another nurse told him he was not allowed to lie on the floor because of all the bacteria but offered no solution. He looked up at her in between breaths of pains and said “then move me.” She then told a cleaner to wash the floor exactly where my son was lying down, which would have made the floor wet, so he couldn’t lie down. It was the third nurse who had a little compassion and finally gave my son a sheet to lie on. So there he was, writhing in pain on a sheet on the emergency room floor. But at least he had a sheet.
By the way my son had a hemorrhoidectomy four days previous in your emergency room, which wasn’t healing, and causing all the pain. The doctor who saw him said, there’s no need to cut it open again, so go home, drink more water and bear the pain, because this is it, that’s all there is to it. If the pain gets WORSE, come back!
I said to my son, how much worse can it get? The way we were treated was unbelievable. It seemed like they just didn’t care anything at all about my son and what he was going through. I wanted to bring my son to another hospital emergency room for a second opinion, but he was just so exhausted he just wanted to go home and try to get some relief. I still think there is something wrong with my son, that the doctor at the Queensway just deferred because he didn’t want to deal with it. But I tell you if he has to go back, it won’t be to the Queensway Carleton Hospital. I can’t believe how he was treated. Someone should know about this.
Is this what our health care system is going to be like from now on. Covid-19 isn’t going anywhere any time soon. I pay my taxes, and I pay for health care on my taxes. As the experts on TV say, there is supposed to be care for the rest of us. If you are in Pain go to the hospital, they say, don’t wait. And this is what happened when I did. There was no effort at all to provide him care by the nurses we ran into. And the Doctor didn’t even care, just shrugged his shoulders. Something needs to change. The Corona-Virus isn’t going away anytime soon.