Your Stories

From: Anonymous

 As a long-time resident of Nanaimo, I recently experienced heart troubles requiring a visit to the ER at NRGH. Due to the lack of space in the cardiac unit, I spent two days in the ER before being moved to the cardiac floor. After my five-day stay in the Cardiac unit, I still had to be sent to Royal Jubilee in Victoria at the Cardiac short-stay unit. The level of care given there was amazing! I have nothing, but praise for the people who work there. NRGH needs updated cardiac services now so that patient care is not put at risk.

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Marlene Zacharias

I have age-related macular degeneration that is treated by a local ophthalmologist ie eye injections that cost me $120 per shot. Most people have access to a retinal specialist and, as such, they do not have to pay for the injections. There are no retinal specialists in the Central and North Island. There was one in Nanaimo but she is leaving to go back to Alta. Even if there was a retinal specialist in Nanaimo, it is a situation that is not helpful to this community or further North eg Tahsis, Gold River, etc. The response that I have received from the office of the Minister of Health is that many people have to drive to see medical specialists. The fact is, one cannot drive after an injection. Many of us are older with limited means and other health problems that care not conducive to long drives. It’s odd. Even Fort St John has a retinal specialist, so does Terrace etc. We do not.

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From: Anonymous

I have two children with complex medical needs. We live in Nanaimo but access paediatrician care, cardiology, and ophthalmology in Victoria, and Neurology, Psychiatry, and Naturopathic care in Vancouver. There is government support for travel to the lower mainland, but we pay for the travel to Victoria. We’ve also made emergency room visits at Victoria General and B.C. Children’s as we’ve been advised not to use the NRGH emergency because of the lack of specialized paediatric care and the risk of infection exposure to immune-compromised children sitting in a waiting room without a separate paediatric area.

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From: Anonymous

I was a healthy 58-year-old woman, or so I thought. I found a lump in my breast and things went downhill. After waiting for a mammogram and ultrasound and then for a biopsy, diagnosis, and surgery scheduling, I finally received my mastectomy at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. The weeks of waiting had resulted in a tumour that had now grown significantly in size because of its extremely aggressive nature and had spread to a lymph node. Then I had to travel to Victoria to meet with an Oncologist as we have NONE north of the Malahat. There was a question as to whether I would be able to get my dose-dense chemotherapy done in Nanaimo, and I spent countless hours worrying about how I would manage commuting back and forth to Victoria given the aggressive chemotherapy I was to be given and the horrid side effects. I was fortunate I could receive my chemo in Nanaimo, and for that, I am incredibly thankful. However, I had to go and stay in Victoria for the 16 rounds of radiation I was to receive over 3 weeks. The new cancer care centre in Nanaimo can not come soon enough.A couple of years later, I found myself back at NRGH for major abdominal surgery for a 4-pound growth with concerns of cancer. I recovered from surgery in a dismal and cramped 4 bedroom with a shared bathroom, which was also used by an unknown person with either mental health or addiction issues who wandered in. I did not feel safe. The washroom had to be cleaned upon request after this incident. Then because of space issues, I was moved out of my room to a temporary overflow area to continue recovering. This caused me undue stress. I would try to walk in the hallway to help my recovery and was weaving my way between carts, piles of equipment, laundry, bedding, etc. Nothing felt very sanitary or sterile. The wards are old and dingy and there are too many cracks and crevices for things like MRSA to thrive and spread. The cleaning is inadequate at best.Recently I found myself back in the ER for apparent kidney issues and waited several hours each time. The staff were overworked and doing their best. The washrooms were less than adequate and I feared coming home with more problems than I came in with.This is Canada. We are not a third-world

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From: Anonymous

I lost my father-in-law a couple of years ago, partly concerning this very issue. He had an MI in Nanaimo, was hospitalized there, and then subsequently transferred down to Victoria for the cath lab. Initial intervention was done, but further heart cath treatment was required. He was sent home but unfortunately had another cardiac arrest a couple of days later and died in the NRGH trauma room. Two things come to mind – had he been able to have the procedure in Nanaimo, possibly he might have been kept in the hospital longer and been able to have the second procedure. Secondly, I’m sure the stress of being sent down to Victoria, alone without family support, also may have contributed to the outcome. I’m confident that my father-in-law received excellent care in both hospitals, but the overall care was lacking because he should have had access to the cath lab intervention he needed sooner and without the stress of a patient transfer.

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From: Anonymous

My husband was referred in October 2023 to RJH Cardiology for an urgent angiogram. He never got it even though I tried to talk to the angiogram department there on numerous occasions as he got sicker. On Jan 18, 2024, he had a cardiac event and was rushed to NRGH. They were unable to give him the help he needed so on Jan 19 he was rushed to RJH. By then he was not well enough to have an angiogram and they had to wait 2 weeks as his kidneys were now affected. Then they did the angiogram but determined that he needed open heart surgery. The surgeon said he wouldn’t survive the surgery. So they offered him another angiogram that would be extremely high risk in his condition. He agreed and had stents put in but passed away 4 days later. I believe that if he had had the angiogram when it was initially requested he would still be here today.

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From: Anonymous

In 2017 I was diagnosed with Afib (for me a flutter), as I have low blood pressure I was put on Digoxin. Fast forward to 2023, Digoxin was no longer controlling my flutter and I was referred to a cardiologist in Victoria in July 2023, and put on a new drug, Sotalol, to control my flutter. On Nov 17th I finally saw the cardiologist. As I have been experiencing daily headaches, my blood pressure is now high (a reaction to Sotalol) and I am recommended to have an oblation. The problem is the waitlist. I am now being told it is likely I will not be scheduled until November or December of 2024. I am currently consuming 5 to 6 extra strength Tylenol daily for the headaches as they rarely stop and my blood pressure continues to be very high. My options, I am being told, are to go off the Sotalol and should my flutter get uncontrollable go to emergency, which I feel is ridiculous as the ER is already out of control. I am doing my best not to overdose on Tylenol and negatively impact my liver’s health.

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From: Anonymous

When I had my first episode of Atrial Fibrillation at 01:30, one Sunday morning in early January 2023, I went to NRGH. The staff quickly assessed me and sent me to the treatment area. A physician saw me and patiently and thoroughly explained what was happening and what might be needed. He told me that if the medication treatment did not work, I would need cardioversion, but that he could not do it on his shift because he was the only physician in the hospital at that time, and it would be risky otherwise. Luckily, I converted to sinus rhythm and did not need that procedure; however, the realization that Nanaimo’s health services were that sparse was frightening to me.

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From: Anonymous

I started with mild back pain in 2021. The pain slowly increased and in early 2023 I had an x-ray and MRI which showed that I had Severe Spinal Stenosis. I was told to go to physio, which I did. In Feb 2024 the pain became excruciating and debilitating. I am now taking multiple medications. I had another MRI this past week which showed that I have Advanced Spinal Stenosis. I have been offered an Epidural Injection at the end of this month in Nanaimo, which scares me. I am on a waiting list to see a neurosurgeon but have been told it may be a year or so before I will be able to do so. I live in Courtenay and the neurosurgeon is in Victoria, a 3-hour trip one way. Should I find the funds to make a trip to the US for surgery, or suffer with terrible pain for who knows how long?

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Cheryl Prince

My almost 90-year-old father who has multiple health issues was discharged from the hospital after my request to keep him there until his symptoms cleared up. They did not follow my request and he was sent home, quickly going into an electrolyte imbalance in the coming days. Not being able to access any of his medical records, nor get help from the floor he was JUST discharged from after a three week stay due to a broken hip. We had to again phone an ambulance and have him taken back after less than ten days or fear he was going to die from dehydration/exhaustion. We were not involved with his discharge, and feel that they have caused his health to further decline instead of thrive.

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Kim S.

Last May I woke up at 2 am one early sweating profusely, extreme shallowness of breath, radiating pain on my left side. An ambulance ride led to a 15 hour wait in emergency  and hallways after diagnosis of a myocardial infarction. It was a Friday and, although my doctor thought it best to get me to Victoria, there was no ‘space available’ for inbound patients. I was sent home from NRGH three days later as space at RJH was still not available. I was summoned to Royal Jubilee in mid-August requiring a three-day trip, which had to be repeated in November to unexpectedly finish the job, at which time a third treatment was deemed necessary and scheduled for January. I was told that if I resided in Victoria, the treatments would have happened much more quickly restoring my health in weeks, rather than over 7-8 months requiring three expensive, stressful trips.

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From: Anonymous

I had a seizure – emergency services in the hospital were excellent. But now the delays started, waiting two weeks to get the results from my family doctor. Having to book follow up scans two months in advance. If there was another option, using private insurance to supplement the public system would remove people from the public waiting lists, open up new surgical capacity at no cost to the taxpayer. Better pay would entice re entry into the system of nurses and doctors. The delays are costing lives and must be reduced.

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