A Canada woman has died after a seven-hour wait in the emergency room, which family members call “heartbreaking” and “so unfair.”
Allison Holthoff, a 37-year-old from Nova Scotia, had an upset stomach on Dec. 31 and went to the emergency room the following morning when the sickness worsened. Her husband, Gunter Holthoff, told CBC News that he had to carry her on his back into the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre in Amherst, Nova Scotia, before finding a wheelchair.
“She was obviously in pain,” he told the outlet. “I was rolling her in the wheelchair and she could hardly sit up.”
Gunter explained that they arrived around 11 a.m., and while Allison was triaged pretty quickly, she then spent hours in the waiting room before she was seen.
“I told the nurses and the lady at the desk there a couple of times, ‘It is getting worse,’ and nothing happened,” he said. “So the security guards, in time, they brought a couple blankets out and they brought us a cup of water and I used it to put some ice on her lips.”
“I think that she actually started saying that she thought she was dying in the waiting room outside,” Gunter continued. “But she kept saying it more and more. She said, ‘I think I’m dying. Don’t let me die here.’ And I said, ‘No, that’s why I’ve got you in the hospital.’ “
After hour six, he said his wife was taken from the waiting room into a unit with no medical equipment. It was 6 p.m. by the time Allison finally saw a doctor and received pain medication. While prepping for an X-ray, Gunter recalled her condition getting worse to the point where she couldn’t breathe.
“The next thing is [her] eyes rolled back in her head and her chest started rising. Something started beeping,” he told CBC. “The next thing you hear is over the PA, ‘code blue, code blue in X-ray.’ “
Gunter recalled that he was quickly asked to leave the room while medical staff attempted to resuscitate Allison three times. However, she ultimately died. He noted that although the family is still waiting on an autopsy, he believes the healthcare system has a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
“We need change, the system is obviously broken. Or if it’s not broken yet, it’s not too far off,” he said. “Something needs to improve. I don’t want anybody else to go through this.”
He added to Global News that he just wishes they weren’t “neglected” by the hospital and that their children got to say goodbye to their mother.
“Unfortunately, I feel like we were neglected until it was to a point they couldn’t ignore us anymore,” Gunter said. “At that point, it was just too late.”