The most shocking email I've received all year

Here is the text of the jaw-dropping email I received this week about wait times in the ER. Many of you asked that I share it here and I can assure you that I've forwarded it on to Dr. Couillard for his response. I'll keep you posted.

Good morning Tommy,

I have been listening to your show for years. I text in very often with comments.  I have to share a story with you that will hopefully make it to air. I apologize for the length. I wanted you to understand all the details.

Last night my wife hurt her shoulder. She spent all night awake and in pain. This morning she was convinced it was broken so I took her to Fleury hospital at 9am. It was the closest to our home. The emergency had about 30 people in there. By 10:30 my wife told me to go to work.  Not one person had been called in one and a half hours.  I left for work.

Every hour I texted her to check in. By 1 PM I asked again and she said two people had been called in 4 hours. I asked if she ate something. She was told she would lose her place if she left and they called. I left the office to go see what was going on at 4:30. I picked up some food for her assuming she would have at the very least seen a doctor for x-rays.  I arrived at Fleury Hospital at 5:15.

To my shock I saw 90% of the same faces as at 9 am. Everyone was demoralized and on the verge of collapse.  I then saw my wife. She had not seen a doctor yet. But she was having conversations with everyone.  Next to my wife sat a mother with two children aged 4 and 2. They were out of control crying. She had been there for 7 hours. My wife went on to tell me that a woman had came in around 10:30 with some type of trauma to her head.

She was complaining of head pain for several hours and had her head wrapped in a towel to help the pain.  HEAD TRAUMA. Yet they threw her in the triage and told her to wait. After several hours passed she collapsed and started convulsions. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head and all the nurses and doctors came running in. Everyone was in shock. They took her away on a stretcher. Nobody knows what happened to her. 

At 6:15 pm I went into the nurse's triage and demanded an answer as to how many people were in front of my wife. I told the nurse it was 9 hours and we had the right to know.  She told me I was disturbing her and if I had a question to take a triage number again and to complain to the government.

So I looked at her and smiled and said "sure I ll take a triage number".  I then went to see everyone in the emergency and told them they had the right to know how many people were in front of them and that the nurse asked everyone with a question to take a triage number. Low and behold the people started getting up to take numbers.

30 minutes later a head nurse and another collègue came to talk to everyone. She stated that she understood many people had been there since early morning but chances are it would be much much longer. So I asked her to explain how much longer. She refused to give a time. I then asked for the maximum amount of time an hour... Five hours or 24 hours. She said she could not answer. I demanded the doctor come to explain what was going on. 

She then said she was trying to stay patient with me but I was pushing too hard. SHE WAS TRYING TO STAY PATIENT. I then asked them what happened to the lady that was complaining about head pain and collapsed with convulsions.  I asked her and the crowd what the radio or TV would ask about the lady that collapsed. I asked why nobody called the radio or police. I then told them I would call just to let them know what happened here today. I asked the crowd why we let them get away with this. Then the people started demanding answers.  They started speaking out and getting upset. One by one they demanded answers. They nurses just left and security came to tell everyone to sit down.

A man for Haiti that immigrated here told us he has never seem something so bad in his country. He said in his third world country "we see doctors within 2 hours" . Always... Regardless of the issue that is the maximum wait. I was embarrassed to be a Quebecer. Embarrassed to the core.

Something amazing happened 10 minutes later. One patient after the other was getting called in to the rooms to see the doctor. They called 8 patients in less that 45 min. We were home with all results and medication by 7:30. So what exactly happened.  Was it the threat of the radio or news?

Did the doctors decide to move a little faster to avoid serious backlash?

Did they magically get half a dozen more doctors in the emergency? Your guess is as good as mine. And I have a pretty good idea. The problem isn't only the government.  It was quite clear that the system is being taken advantage of by the very people put there to help us.

I arrived home disgusted with the events of this day. Disgusted at my paycheck that leaves me with 47% of my hard earned money. Disgusted with this place I chose to raise my children in. This place that has politicians pushing hatred and intolerance.  Spending our money on ensuring hatred, intolerance and bigotry. A place where speaking a language of my choice is almost considered as bad as a plague. A place where spending our hard earned money on language police is more important than fixing the infrastructure to support this crippled system. A system that even the nurses and doctors do not feel like fighting for. This same system that has hardened the emotions of those nurses and doctors that we look to for help and healing. They don t care because they can t care. It simply is so broken that they realize it cannot be repaired with the tools in place now.

So we have become nothing more than sheep on a farm. Nobody cares if a sheep dies. They simply get another.

We choose to accept these deplorable conditions. This is why nothing changes. Things will get worse. We need to speak out and get upset. We need to push hard for change. We need to do it together. If not we are simply sheep being controlled by a system that is broken and rotten to it s core.

And by the way, we pay very steeply for this crippled and rotten system.


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  1. Joanne Hedley posted on 09/13/2014 03:19 AM
    While I agree that people are often treated like cattle in Quebec's ERs, I also think that a woman with a sore shoulder should not go to the ER. Emergency departments are for the VERY ill - as in, not breathing, your heart has stopped, there's an ax in your forehead ill. It is not for upset tummies and aching joints. I am sure those things hurt, but please, go to a CLSC or any other clinic to get treated, but not an ER. In short, yes the system desperately needs oversight from someone not associated with the hospitals, but the public also needs to understand what the word "emergency" means.
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