Man wants answers after wife walks out of ER with stroke symptoms

A Deseronto, Ont., man is frustrated after booking a doctor’s appointment and multiple emergency room visits to learn his wife had multiple mini-strokes.

Mark Janes took his wife Lori Toth to Lennox and Addington County General Hospital in Napanee on June 13.

“She was dragging her leg and her speech was all messed up, so I rushed her to [the hospital],” he said.

Janes said he wasn’t allowed into the hospital due to COVID-19 protocols, so he waited in the car. After about eight hours, Toth texted asking to be picked up.

“I went to the front door and grabbed her and tried to get her to explain what was going on. She really couldn’t understand or couldn’t speak or anything,” a- he declared.

Despite her concern, Janes said he trusted the hospital’s decision to release Toth, so he took her home.

However, when Toth’s condition worsened, they went to see their family doctor two days later.

They were advised to go immediately to Kingston General Hospital, where they waited another 13 hours before seeing an ER doctor.

It crosses my mind that they would send someone home like this.-Marc Janes

“They took her for a test, came back and confirmed multiple mini-strokes,” Janes said.

Toth was admitted to the hospital for a week before being transferred to a Providence Care hospital, where she remained for another two weeks.

She returned home last week and Janes said she is better now, although she still suffers from short-term memory loss and a mild speech impediment.

Although he is grateful for the care his wife has received, Janes said he wishes they had more clarity about what happened at the first hospital.

Janes reached out to him for answers through his website, but never got a response.

“It just crosses my mind that they would send someone home like this,” Janes said.

“She could have died and they just sent her away.”

The health system under pressure

Erin Brown, patient relations manager at Lennox and Addington County Hospital, said the hospital could not provide specific patient information.

She said the system’s capacity is stretched, which may have contributed to longer wait times in the emergency department.

“It is undeniable that our healthcare system is under immense pressure,” she said.

“We are at all-time highs for key metrics such as ambulance offload times. We are also seeing a higher volume of patients seeking emergency care.”

She also said that while patients are encouraged to go to outpatient appointments and emergency department visits alone, they are allowed to have a visitor if physical distancing can be maintained. Caregivers are still allowed to accompany patients.

Patient advocacy is needed more than ever

Paige Lennox, a registered nurse and founder and CEO of Canadian Health Advocates Inc., said staffing shortages, beefed up emergency departments and lack of beds are making experiences like Toth’s increasingly common.

“We don’t want people being fired without proper resources in place, or being fired prematurely,” she said.

“So taking a proactive approach and really standing up for yourself is so important and unfortunate.”

Truly defending yourself is so important and unfortunate.– Paige Lennox, Canadian Health Promoters Inc.

Lennox said one way to do this is to contact the hospital’s discharge planner, but she acknowledges that it’s not always possible for patients to do this themselves.

She said her team of 14 nurses across Canada work with patients to attend medical appointments, communicate with hospital staff and notify loved ones.

Lennox recommends inviting a third party to attend appointments.

“It doesn’t have to be one of us, it can be family or a friend…even if it’s just on speakerphone.”