Cape Breton man claims mother was transferred to hospital via taxi

A Cape Breton man says his 92-year-old mother was taken from one hospital to another in a taxi, rather than an ambulance, after she suffered a heart attack.

Joe Young says his mother started feeling sick Sunday night, so he took her to the Glace Bay Hospital. After several hours in outpatients, she started having chest and arm pains.

With Glace Bay’s ER about to close for the day, he was told she’d have to go to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.          

“They said, ‘We got to get the paperwork done and we’ll be sending her by taxi,’” says Young. “I said, ‘Well, why?’  And they said, ‘Well, there’s no ambulances available.'”

Young says he was worried his mother had taken a heart attack. But that after being looked over by four nurses and a doctor, she got into a cab.

“She may take another heart attack on the way, and you got no paramedics? What do you do?  Do you just leave a lady that’s 92 years old die in a cab?” asks Young.

In an email to CTV News, an EHS spokesperson confirms a paramedic unit was available for a hospital-to-hospital transfer between the hours of 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Oct. 2, which is when Young’s mother was taken to hospital in a taxi.

On Friday, Young met with MLA Tammy Martin, who feels this is symptomatic of bigger problems in Cape Breton Health Care.

“Since our Mobile Care Team closed – or has been extended until January. If that was still in place, I don’t believe we’d be sitting here having this conversation,” Martin says.

“This is just another example of what’s going to happen if we don’t get doctors and nurses to keep our emergency rooms open in Cape Breton,” says PC MLA Eddie Orrell.

Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey calls Young’s story “concerning,” and says he’ll be reaching out to health care providers who were there that night to find out what happened.

“I’ve committed to reaching out to ensure we get the full scope of information. In particular, the clinical assessments that were done to determine that appropriate steps were taken,” Delorey says.

Meanwhile, Young says his mother’s condition in hospital is getting worse.

“She took a heart attack the following day, and since then, she’s had memory loss. There’s times she didn’t know I was there,” he says.

Young wants to be assured no one else will have to be cabbed for care.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.

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