NEWS

Heart attack victim lived near small town hospital, but ER was closed

07/17/2015 12:22 EDT | Updated 07/16/2016 05:59 EDT
David Head says his father might have survived a heart attack if the Preeceville Hospital hadn't recently lost a second doctor.

Floyd Head, who was 74, lived just a block away from the hospital in the town, which is about 220 kilometres northeast of Regina.

In June, the hospital began shutting down the emergency room every second week.

When Head suffered his heart attack, on June 28, his wife phoned the hospital and was told to contact 911.

An ambulance arrived quickly, but it took time for paramedics to stabilize the man so he could be taken to hospital in Yorkton.

"Mom would have put him in her vehicle and drove the half a block and got him into [the Preeceville] hospital just like that," Head told reporters in Regina Thursday.

Head said paramedics spent two hours ensuring his father was stable enough for the one hour ambulance trip to Yorkton.

"[It was] very difficult to watch, sitting half a block from a hospital, while five EMS people are working on him in a small bedroom with very little room to work," he said. "It was a situation that could have been totally avoidable."

Head said his father was alert and speaking as he was loaded into an ambulance. However, his condition worsened.

"By the time he arrived in Yorkton he was non-responsive," Head said. From there, the patient was moved to Regina where doctors explained that the heart attack was very severe.

He died two days later.

Concerns about state of health care

Head shared his story with assistance from the Official Opposition in the provincial legislature. The NDP said the family's experience highlights serious health care issues in Saskatchewan.

Head noted that people in Preeceville have raised money to support the hospital and his parents moved into town, in part, to be closer to the facility.

"Because we live in rural Saskatchewan, I don't think we have to take a back seat to health care," he said.

The province responded to the issue by noting that attempts are underway to find a doctor to work in Preeceville, but it may take several months before one is in place.

A previous doctor in the community moved to Regina. Officials noted temporary closures of the Preeceville ER have taken place from time to time for many years.

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