Today, a hospital employee told me that if someone seated on the yellow bench to the right of the hospital entrance fell or needed medical assistance that person or someone with them would have to call 9-1-1. Hospital policy doesn’t allow staff to go outside of the building to render assistance, even when the person in need is literally less than a foot from the door.
These two benches are often used by hospital patients who have stepped outside for some fresh air. The advantage of these benches is that they are under the entrance awning, so the patient is protected from the weather. It’s not unusual to see patients in wheelchairs or standing with an IV pole in this area. Hospital, and by extension Nova Scotia Health Authority policy for the province, says hospital patients and anyone else in need of emergency medical assistance who are outside the building need to call 9-1-1!
We are told in medical emergencies that minutes and seconds count. So how many Nova Scotians suffer catastrophic consequences because ambulances and paramedics have to drive across a community to render assistance to a hospital patient or someone trying to enter a hospital? How much worse – and more expensive to treat – is their condition because of this lost time?
It seems absurd that a hospital patient who is literally on the other side of a door or mere metres from an ER would have to call paramedics and an ambulance for assistance. It’s dangerous for them and supremely wasteful for the system. How much is an ambulance call these days? And who pays? If someone is a hospital patient, isn’t it the hospital/health authority’s responsibility to pay? And when answering such a call, that’s making an emergency team unavailable for another emergency. And then there is the risk of another accident or incident as an ambulance speeds toward the hospital to render assistance.So there could be a significant ripple effect across the community.
With hospital staff ordered not to render assistance, it’s not clear that they would even make the 9-1-1 call. In the past with the notorious case of the 83-year-old woman asking for help for her 80-year-old husband who was having a heart attract across the street from Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton, she was told to call 9-1-1. Staff did not even offer to dial the phone for her.
Surely there is a better policy.