Patient for open heart surgery sent back to Woody Point home

Cory
Cory Hurley
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Jim Major

Jim Major’s voice has been silent all his life, but his family says it’s time he is heard.

The 71-year-old Woody Point man has been mute and deaf since a case of meningitis as a baby. He lives with his sister Emily and her husband Fred Blanchard. They enjoy his company, even if there is no conversation, and he can be as handy as any man to have around the house.

He has had a healthy life, according to his brother in-law. That changed recently when it was discovered Major had an aneurysm and three blockages in his heart. He had an appointment at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s for surgery this week. It was requested he arrive Tuesday.

The family was concerned, said Blanchard. Major can typically get his point across when he needs to, but he does not do sign language and his degree of literacy is low.

Major is aware of his heart condition, according to his brother in-law, and the doctors showed him in great detail the surgery he would have. Blanchard said he seemed to understand.

Family members escorted him to his scheduled checkin at the hospital in St. John’s. Emily, his concerned sister, sat alongside him on the 700-kilometre drive.

Major went through the preparations for surgery Tuesday and Wednesday, including fasting on the day before Thursday’s bypass. That morning, as he was about to be prepped for surgery, it is cancelled due to a bed shortage.

Back in Woody Point, Blanchard is furious. He has been frantic on the telephone with politicians and media.

“I wants to blow this to hell,” he said. “We are being treated like shit on the west coast.”

The long drive back to Woody Point was being made Friday. Major has been re-scheduled for surgery on Sept. 8.

“They don’t even know where the west coast is to out there, I don’t think,” said Blanchard.

He expects the trip will cost the family about $2,000. They will have to do it all again in about three weeks.

Blanchard cannot understand how an aneurysm and three heart blockages would not get priority. He also said a person who travels across the island for a procedure should not get postponed.

“They were upset as hell, you know that,” he said. “I was so upset yesterday, I did not stop trembling.”

Major must live more than three weeks with the aneurysm and three heart blockages and the family is worried it could be fatal. Blanchard wonders if his brother in-law might have trouble communicating if there is a problem.

There is also a concern because of the way he lives. His brother-in-law said he always wants to have his hands into something, enjoying small engine repair or other mechanical things. Doctors orders are to take it easy and not lift anything over 10 pounds.

“We are on pins and needles all the time,” Blanchard said. “He goes for a walk, and we say, ‘I don’t suppose he dropped dead somewhere.’ That’s an awful strain.”

Legally, Eastern Health representatives are not permitted to speak about individual patient cases. It was confirmed via email that two open heart surgeries were cancelled Thursday due to a shortage of available beds in the cardiovascular intensive care unit.

Patients of open heart surgery require post-operative care in the unit. If patients are not well enough to be discharged, and there is no available bed, Eastern Health may have to delay or cancel an open-heart procedure.

The spokesperson stated patients’ surgeries rebooked based on the patient’s surgical priority as determined by the operating surgeon. There was no mention of whether a person’s travel or accommodations is factored into the decision and a response to that question was not received as of deadline.

Eastern Health apologized for the inconvenience caused to patients and their families.

ADDENDUM:

In an email Monday, Eastern Health pointed out that eligible patients can receive assistance through the Department of Health and Community Services’ Medical Transportation Assistance Program. Information about this program is available at http://www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/mcp/travelassistance.html.

 

 

Organizations: Health Sciences Centre

Geographic location: Woody Point

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Recent comments

  • M*
    August 19, 2014 - 12:52

    addendum... seriously, the issue is not that they need assistance to make it to the appointments its the fact that they travelled so far just to be postponed. I think that should play a major factor in which surgeries get delayed. I understand the need to postpone because of lack of bed in the recovery unit but they should do their best to have the surgeries that are postpone be ones for people closer to the hospital, not people who have to drive 700 + km. Being from St. John's myself, I would understand if my surgery was postponed a few days so that someone from the west coast who had to travel so far could have their surgery.

  • M*
    August 19, 2014 - 12:51

    addendum... seriously, the issue is not that they need assistance to make it to the appointments its the fact that they travelled so far just to be postponed. I think that should play a major factor in which surgeries get delayed. I understand the need to postpone because of lack of bed in the recovery unit but they should do their best to have the surgeries that are postpone be ones for people closer to the hospital, not people who have to drive 700 + km. Being from St. John's myself, I would understand if my surgery was postponed a few days so that someone from the west coast who had to travel so far could have their surgery.

  • mary leonard
    August 18, 2014 - 19:47

    this is a sad story for me cause jim is the uncle of my boyfriend ,i was at the hospital last thur ,when the surgory was cancelled ithink we all in shock .uncle jim iam praying that you will get your surgory in sept your such aloving man and you mean so much to your family may god bless you

  • Scott M
    August 18, 2014 - 10:21

    Is there no Common Sense left in this world anymore? Get Well soon Mr. Major

  • shar
    August 18, 2014 - 08:38

    what pray tell constitutes an emergency? This happened to a cousin of mine and unfortunately he passed before he could get surgery due to the long wait. Maybe this is their plan all long. I hope this man get his surgery and quick. Absolute nonsense. I bet if it was a politician, there would be no delays. OH WAIT A MINUTE, THEY DON'T HAVE HEARTS.

  • Jack
    August 18, 2014 - 08:28

    Eastern Health is well known for treating patients from outside their zone with contempt. In fact, my mom had a similar experience two weeks ago when she was scheduled to undergo radiation therapy as part of her scheduled lung cancer treatment. By the time she arrived in St. John's, she found out the she got bumped. This cancer treatment bumping cost my parents over $400 in transportation and accommodation costs, and Eastern Health didn't have the nerve to reimburse them. Fortunately, my mom was able to get her radiation treatment last week for required five straight days. To prevent what happened to the Blanchard's from happening again, in an event that someone from outside Eastern Health zone goes to their health care facilities for treatment and then get bumped in short notice, Eastern Health should be required to reimburse their families fully to cover the cost of transportation and accommodations. An even better solution is for the Newfoundland and Labrador Government to have a Cardiac and Cardiovascular Surgery units at the new hospital to eliminate the need to go to St. John's.

  • muriel parrott
    August 18, 2014 - 06:52

    Re Jim Major-- happy that you went to the news media with this issue, on the Health care system. this opens the doors for many others who has to go to St. John's. the politician's don't give a rats ass, time for the people on the west coast and Labrador to tell the politicians what they want and need, not sit back and have the politicians telling us what we are going to get-- if and when we get it. I hope that Mr. Ball and the new pc. Leader will be there for the people in this area, not for their own Politicial gain.

    • christine sparkes/john kennedy
      August 18, 2014 - 19:12

      Hey there long time since I have heard your name,you are a strong person and all will be good ,just be strong and take care of yourself.