Bleeding toddler waits four hours in emergency room

Momma Nichole Allaire’s not impressed with the care her son, Michael, 20 months-old, received at CDH last week when he cut his finger on a tin can. - Ashley Degraaf
Momma Nichole Allaire’s not impressed with the care her son, Michael, 20 months-old, received at CDH last week when he cut his finger on a tin can.
— image credit: Ashley Degraaf

Local momma Nichole Allaire's looking for answers and actions after a bad experience in the emergency department of CDH.

Wednesday, Feb. 13 Allaire's 20-month-old son Michael cut his thumb open after sticking his hand in the top of an empty tin can.

Naturally, Nichole tried to stop the bleeding herself, but realized it wasn't going to stop and the wound needed stitches.

"I decided to take him to emergency as the only in-town walk-in clinic was closed due to ill doctors," Allaire explained.

"We got to CDH and were checked in at 12:30 p.m. and it wasn't until 2:30 that we actually went into the ward," she said. "By 4:55 p.m., we had still not seen anyone.

"He needed sutures which we did not receive and couldn't receive because by that time it was too late to stitch his wound."

So she and Michael and her four-and-a-half year old daughter Madison left.

Not only is the wait time what concerns Allaire, and lack of treatment, but the lack of care and attention during her wait.

She and her kids weren't provided with a bed or gurney, only one chair, which she sat on with her son on her lap and Madison next to her on the floor.

"Can you imagine having a four-year-old on the floor and a 20-month-old sitting on my lap for that long?" she said.

According to Allaire, no nurses stopped by to provide even temporary bandage or cleaning with an anti-septic. And that's not it.

"There was no clean and safe place to change a baby in emergency without leaving and potentially missing our turn," she said. "I am appalled that such a small child was brushed off. As a parent I should be able to get treatment for my child within a reasonable amount of time."

Allaire emailed Vancouver Island Health Authority after the incident and received an automated email response stating she'd receive a call within the next couple days.

And that she did, by a patient care staffer from Victoria who agreed the situation wasn't acceptable and who promised she'd receive another call from Cowichan's site director.

VIHA's Sheila Leadbetter confirmed this week a quality care program manager has been working with Allaire to sort out the details of the incident and talk about solutions.

"It's safe to say across Canada emergency rooms struggle with wait times," Leadbetter said, noting, VIHA's top priority, however, is patient care and finding solutions.

One example solution, which reflects Allaire's incident, involves having a designated doctor who's available during the day to only treat patients with injuries like Michael's, which she classified as level 4/5 seriousness.

Allaire doesn't want to stir up a big controversy or rake CDH over the coals for the incident, but appreciates acknowledgement from CDH staff and assurance they will make efforts to avoid situations like hers in the future.


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