No way to get home from Nanaimo hospital for Parksville senior

Sixty-seven-year-old was discharged to the sidewalk outside NRGH at 3:30 a.m.

Released to the sidewalk at 3:30 a.m., a local senior’s recent trip to the hospital has her wondering about who is responsible for the well-being of patients.

“I had a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) attack and couldn’t breathe, so I called the ambulance and was taken to the hospital in Nanaimo (NRGH) in my PJs with nothing, not even my purse,” said a 67-year-old Parksville resident who didn’t want her name used.

She said they got everything under control pretty quickly and released her at 3:30 a.m. “wrapped in a hospital blanket with no help, no idea how to get home.”

With limited options at that time of the night and not wanting to disturb anyone, she ended up taking a taxi home for $85. It’s something she has heard has happened to others, including her neighbour. She said the taxi driver gave her a card for Granny Go Go (250-714-9715), but it wasn’t operating at that time of the night.

“We are a companion service, we take people right from their bed and get them into their house and make sure they are comfortable,” said Granny Go Go owner Bonnie Brown. And they do it for around $30, but they don’t currently have an overnight driver. There are other services that transport people like Driving Miss Daisy (250-937-8812) and some limited daytime services through the Society of Organized Services (SOS).

Island Health confirms it’s the patient’s responsibility to get themselves home. “We do everything we can to ensure the patient gets home safely and with dignity, with particular focus on after-hours discharge of patients who may be vulnerable,” said IH spokesperson Valerie Wilson.

“There is donated clothing available at NRGH for patients who need it,” she added.

She also encourages people with complaints to contact hospital administration or the IH Patient Care Quality Office (www.viha.ca/patientcarequalityoffice).

In special cases, Island Health may provide a taxi voucher or allow people to stay until the morning, said Wilson.