N.S. man angry hospital wouldnt help father having heart attack in parking lot

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - An elderly woman with a cane and a heart condition was told to bring her husband into a Nova Scotia hospital on her own or call 911 after he suffered a heart attack 10 metres from the facility's front door, the couple's son said Friday.
Patrick Smale said his 81-year-old father began having chest pains last weekend and drove to the Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton, about two hours outside Halifax.
Smale said his mother, who doesn't drive and has had two heart valve replacements, went inside the hospital to get help because her husband was unable to walk on his own due to the pain.
She was told by hospital staff that they couldn't come out and she should bring him in herself or call 911, Smale said.
"I couldn't believe it. I just assumed that if someone's having a suspected heart attack at the front entrance, at least a nurse or security guard would get a wheelchair to get him in the door," he said in Halifax, where his father was receiving treatment.
"It just seemed ridiculous that they had to call 911 to get an ambulance to do it."
Staff called paramedics who were stationed across the street from the hospital, which describes itself online as a full service, acute care community facility.
Staff apparently also told Smale's mother she would have to pay for the ambulance trip, he said.
Paramedics arrived shortly after the call and took Smale's father into the hospital.
Tim Guest, vice-president of acute care for Annapolis Valley Health, said officials were investigating the matter and reminding staff of proper procedures.
He said normal practice calls for a nurse to go outside to assess a person and call 911 if necessary. He said they aren't instructed to get a physician in the hospital because paramedics "are more prepared for safely removing people from vehicles."
Guest said the person at the registration desk should call 911 and get a nurse for the person, which Smale said did not happen.
"If that didn't happen, one could surmise there was something in the process that didn't occur," said Guest, adding they are developing a more formal procedure for such cases.
"We've already started the review of the process and we've already communicated to managers who are doing the investigation into the incident that they need to remind staff of what the process is."
Smale said the outcome could have been different if an ambulance wasn't at its post when the call went out for his dad, who had a triple bypass about three years ago and suffers from angina.
Smale said his father was expected to recover, but hopes staff will change their practices.
"Policy supersedes doing the right thing these days," he said. "Hopefully this might change the policy a bit for someone in the future."

Organizations: Nova Scotia hospital, Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton, Annapolis Valley Health

Geographic location: HALIFAX

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