May 25, 2017 8:50 pm
Aldergrove family shares Abbotsford hospital horror story
By Paula BakerOnline News Producer Global News
Warning: Graphic content. An Aldergrove family is sharing their hospital horror story that started with a loved-one taking a fall and ended in his death. John Hua reports.
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An Aldergrove family is sharing their hospital horror story with the hopes that it will bring about some change.
John Hehn died in Abbotsford Regional Hospital on Saturday after his heart finally gave out. His family believes the toll of a head trauma and a broken neck was too much for the 85-year-old man to bear.
“This is what I’ll be thinking about the whole time… about my dad dying, will be this is how he died,” Hehn’s daughter Carleen said through tears.
“He shouldn’t have went like that. It shouldn’t have been like that.”
Two days earlier Hehn was sent home from the hospital and told to take Tylenol for his pain.
“The doctor told me that there was no medical reason to keep my dad in the hospital,” Carleen told Global News.
This feedback was given after the elderly man had fallen down a flight of stairs at home. According to Carleen, the hospital’s medical staff diagnosed her father with a fractured skull and nose but no brain bleed.
READ MORE: Another family wants answers after woman dies a day after discharge from Abbotsford hospital
Wendy Hehn said watching her father suffer at home was a nightmare.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God what’s wrong’. What’s wrong with my dad, why is he here?” Wendy said.
The next day Hehn was rushed back to the emergency room and while scans did not find a brain bleed, they did identify two broken vertebrae in his neck.
According to the family, the doctor who discovered the broken neck said Hehn should never have been sent home in the first place and at the very least should have been kept in the trauma ward overnight.
“If he’d stayed in the hospital that night… maybe they would have found that. Or they could’ve given him pain medicine,” Carleen said. “He had nothing, nothing.”
Fraser Health is now launching an investigation.
The Hehn family also says paramedics never used a backboard or neck brace to stabilize their father on either trip to the hospital.
BC Emergency Health Services is offering condolences but no explanation.
“I know he had a broken neck that entire time and the last 48 hours were horrible,” Wendy said about her father’s injuries.
On top of grieving the loss of a husband and father, the Hehn family is left to wonder how his final days could have gone so wrong.
“It tortures me to think… and I’ll never forget that,” Carleen said.
Families demanding answers from Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Fraser Health
This is not a first-time occurrence for the Abbotsford hospital.
In early February, an Abbotsford couple demanded answers after the death of their three-year-old daughter.
Balraj Gill said her daughter Nimrat woke up with a fever at around 2 a.m. on Feb. 6. She sensed something wasn’t right so she and the girl’s father took her to Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
Gill said she was advised to go home and give her daughter Tylenol. Nimrat’s condition worsened during the night, according to her mother. She started throwing up at home.
Her parents said they rushed her to hospital at 5 a.m. on Feb. 7. They said they waited for hours in the emergency room for X-rays and blood tests.
“Her body colour was changing and she can’t speak clearly,” Gill said. “’Her body is fighting with temperature, fever,’ that was the answer of the doctor.”
Moments later, Gill said Nimrat died. A doctor’s report claimed that Nimrat succumbed to “a large left-sided pneumonia… septic shock related to this with resulting respiratory failure leading to cardiac arrest.”
READ MORE: Inquest into 3 mental health deaths at Abbotsford Regional Hospital makes 25 recommendations
A similar incident happened in late January involving a 56-year-old woman and prompted her family to demand answers from Fraser Health.
Mary Lou Murphy dedicated her life to helping others. On Jan. 30 Murphy went to Abbotsford Regional Hospital sweating profusely and in considerable pain. After a five-hour wait she was given a shot of morphine and sent home.
“She had been treated in the community for muscular spasm with the appropriate medications,” Fraser Health Medicine Vice President Dr. Roy Morton said at the time. “That was what the discharge diagnosis was from the emergency room.”
A friend said he visited her the next day at home and knew it was something much worse. Murphy died sometime that night.
Murphy and Nimrat’s deaths occurred one week apart.
“Doctors can sometimes have different opinions about the treatment for a patient,” Tasleem Juma, a spokesperson with Fraser Health said.
“They’re making decisions based on information they have at the time.”
However according to the B.C. Nurses Union, there is a chronic staffing shortage at Abbotsford Regional Hospital’s emergency room. In March, the union sounded the alarm by comparing the emergency room conditions at some Lower Mainland hospitals to scenes from television’s M*A*S*H.
The union says there should be 88 nurses in the ER but there are currently 32 missing.
Some of the complaints from nurses at the hospital include grossly congested hallways, psychiatric patients being held in recliners and limited bathroom facilities, according to a release from the union.
At the time of the union’s complaints, Michael Marchbank, president and CEO of Fraser Health, acknowledged the authority has 30 vacant positions, but said they have “significantly expanded the specialty training” they do.
~ with files from John Hua and Jon Azpiri