92-year-old Alberta woman remains in hospital days after her 911 call was transferred to 811
Jacqui Bayne’s mom, 92-year-old Barbara Ross became sick last week. Bayne knew her mom needed immediate medical care and called 911 for an ambulance, but the ambulance was never dispatched.
“I said, ‘She’s weak, she’s dehydrated, everything is going through her. She can barely stand, can barely walk,’ and they said, ‘I’m going to switch you over to 811 so they can assess it.’”
Bayne took her mom to the emergency room and waited the whole day for Ross to be admitted. Ross was treated released to go home but her symptoms didn’t improve.
Ross lives in a independent living facility where staff do checks in the morning, and Ross wasn’t waking up.
“I received a call from the facility again — they had problems waking her. When I spoke to my mother she said again, ‘weakness’. I went over there, I said this is ridiculous. I called 911,” Bayne said.
“I was immediately transferred to 811.”
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Bayne said at that time, she was asked to give the phone to her mom and take it off of speaker phone.
“They asked if she had chest pains, she said yes. They asked if she has some breathing issues, she said yes. She was saying how weak she was, couldn’t walk, couldn’t eat anything and put me back on the phone and basically said to take to her to her GP,” Bayne said.
Bayne didn’t want to go to a family doctor —she wanted her mom to be treated at a hospital. She was worried about transporting Ross herself because she was so weak.
“They suggested all sorts of arrangements to do in the car transport. I said she is too weak. They told me to call a medical transport agency to take her.”
Bayne said she gave up with the conversation and helped mom get dressed and then took her to the emergency room at the Misericordia Hospital.
“She needed to be there on a stretcher, she waited the entire day at the Misericordia in chair slumped over. The security guard even felt sorry for her.”
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The province announced early February, 911 calls determined to be less severe will be transferred to 811 to speak to a registered nurse. It’s meant to free up paramedics to focus on life threatening calls.
The health minister estimated this could divert up to 40,000 calls a year where ambulances aren’t needed.
Alberta Health Services said in a statement on Sunday, transfers are not forced and any Albertan requiring EMS will receive it.
“This process uses a set of complex, internationally accepted guidelines to assess the seriousness of an EMS call and determine if an ambulance needs to be dispatched or the call can be transferred to a Health Link RN for further assessment. After the RN assessment, should it be determined an ambulance is required, Health Link will immediately transfer the call back to EMS for emergency response to be dispatched.”
After this experience, Bayne isn’t too sure how well the process working.
“If something happens to her again, heaven forbid we have to call 911.
“It’s horrible because you don’t know where to turn or what to do anymore and it’s degrading for this poor person to go through this.”
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