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Mark's Story

In April 2014 I was visiting my mom in Medicine Hat, Alberta. We went for coffee and on the way back to her place she started acting “odd.” By the time we got to her home she had a massive headache. I immediately drove to the hospital. I practically had to carry her into the emergency room. Needless to say, it was packed. After half an hour they got Mom into a room and immediately did a CT scan. They found she had a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Two hours later she was on a flight to a hospital in Calgary. That is how our year-long nightmare began.

After two weeks they determined that Mom was stable. We wanted her to be sent to Edmonton where most of her family lives, but apparently patients have to be sent to where their home address is. So they sent her via ambulance back to Medicine Hat. Three months after Mom was transferred back to Medicine Hat, we found out her hospital roommate had already been waiting for eight months for a room in an assisted living facility in Medicine Hat. We decided to have Mom discharged from the hospital and bring her to Edmonton. We brought her to the emergency room of an Edmonton hospital. We waited for roughly 11 hours roughly before we were seen and the doctor told us there was nothing he could do. He told us to take her back to Medicine Hat. Later on that day, after having been up for 40-plus hours, Mom started having stroke-like symptoms again. We called for an ambulance and they took her to another hospital. After her condition stabilized, Mom was placed in a room in acute care. (We had her on a list to get into an assisted living facility by then.) It sounds nice, but the reality of it is this: there were two people in two beds in a room the size of an average bedroom. She was there roughly five months.

Nine months after her initial hemorrhage, we got the call that a room had opened up at one of the facilities we had picked. The facility we got her into is adequate, but that is about it. It is understaffed, and there really are no activities on the weekend. The workers I have met there are really good people but I believe they pay them just enough to keep them there.

I don’t believe that seniors who have worked all of their lives should be treated this way. We build $350 million museums in Alberta and think nothing of the cost. But our pioneers, our seniors, have this to look forward to? This is a disgrace. Is this what I have to look forward to if I happen to live a long life and then get sick? If it is, I don’t want any part of it.