A Manitoba woman said her 63-year-old mother died in surgery after waiting more than four hours in the St. Boniface Hospital emergency room last Wednesday, the same day the hospital was directing visitors away from its chaotic ER due to a shortage of hospital beds.
Monica Richard said her mother, Madeliene Richard, had been home just over a week after undergoing a 10-hour coronary bypass operation at St. Boniface when she started having complications and was rushed to the emergency room by ambulance.
"(You could hear) the gurgling. You could hear the blood in her chest filling up, and they did nothing," said Richard, 34. "I’m angry. I’m everything you could think of."
Richard — who lives more than 350 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg in Angusville — said an aunt who lives in Winnipeg called the ambulance, and her mother arrived at the hospital shortly after 6 p.m. It wasn’t until close to 11:30 p.m. that she was seen for surgery. By then, Richard said her mother had severe internal bleeding.
"They opened her chest and there was no more blood in her heart. She had (died)," Richard said.
A spokesperson for St. Boniface Hospital said in a statement emailed to the Free Press they can’t comment publicly on the specific concerns of any patient because of privacy laws. The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Richard, a mother of five, said she’s upset her mother had to wait so long to be treated when she got to the ER — especially because she arrived with low blood pressure and had prior bleeding issues during surgery.
"It’s just been hard," she said. "We had visited Grandma lots in the hospital and thought she was on the mend. I haven’t actually been able to express it to my three- and four-year-old yet."
Richard said she’s listed as her mother’s only next of kin, but she didn't get a call from the hospital until after midnight June 13.
"Nobody called me until it was too late," she said. "Not that I could have done anything, but I could have drove in… and maybe at least said my goodbyes."
Now, she said she’s left wondering if recent changes at the hospital’s emergency room led to her mother’s death.
An internal memo was circulated at St. Boniface last Wednesday recommending temporarily redirecting people who go to the ER for follow-up appointments or non-emergency treatment elsewhere because of a shortage of beds. That memo was leaked to media the next day.
Richard said she’s been in contact with hospital staff, and hopes to get some answers about what happened to her mother and how things could have gone differently.
"My mom should still be here," Richard said, her voice breaking. "The only thing that I would want is for them to realize that we do need these emergency rooms…. You can’t just be cutting people off health care."
Richard said she’s hoping to get more information from the hospital, and that she’s looking into pursuing legal action.
Updated on Monday, June 17, 2019 at 6:37 PM CDT: Adds photo
6:42 PM: Fixes typo
June 18, 2019 at 12:07 PM: Cutline fixed.