Family frustrated with lack of services for drug addicted sister

TC Media
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Last Sunday, Tara Myers’ sister was finally ready to reach out for help with her drug addiction, but after waiting over eight hours in the emergency room, finally gave up and left.

Wait times continue to be an issue at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital's emergency department.

Myers took her sister to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital emergency department in Charlottetown after being told on Friday there were no available beds for women at the detox facility in Mount Herbert.

When they called on Sunday, no one answered.

So they went to the ER and waited.

And waited.

After six hours, Myers went to speak with a man working the triage desk to find out how much longer it would be.

“He said he was going to go talk to the team leader and get back to me, and he never got back to me,” she said.

Another hour later, she checked again. Still no response.

Finally, exhausted and frustrated while suffering withdrawal symptoms with no end in sight, Myers’ sister finally decided to leave.

“I don’t blame her. Eight-and-a-half hours is a long time to try to sit and wait… if you’re coming off a drug it can be pure torture to sit there. Noises, lights, all that is just difficult.”

Myers’ sister is not alone. Many Islanders who try to access detox within a medical facility may find themselves with an even longer wait.

Pam Trainor, executive director of acute care and mental health and addictions for Health P.E.I., said Tuesday wait times for inpatient withdrawal management, or detox, has improved.

But patients seeking detox in the Mount Herbert addictions facility can still be forced to wait as long as 10 days.

It all depends on how sick the addicted person is when they reach out for help.

“If someone is seeking treatment and is determined to be very ill, then they would actually make some adjustments to their admissions and take that person in probably the next day,” Trainor said.

Patients are screened over the phone to determine whether they need immediate care.

“Not everyone needs inpatient withdrawal, some people do very well with outpatient withdrawal.”

Outpatient withdrawal means the addicted Islander detoxes on their own, in their own home, with the help of counsellors.

“That is available in five different locations across the province. They have a short wait time. It’s anything from one to three days,” Trainor said.

People are also told they can contact a counsellor or a self-help group such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, or to go to the emergency department if they are very ill.

If they end up in the ER, they are assessed and triaged, as any other patient would be according to the severity of their illness.

“We only have so many beds and we have to manage them and we have to triage them based on their needs for those inpatient beds, but, as I mentioned, there’s also outpatient detox which can be accessed very quickly,” Trainor said.

She stressed there have been ‘improvements and investments’ made to services as part of the province’s addictions action plan, announced last November with the release of the mental health and addictions review.

Myers said she knows the province has been working on the growing problem of addictions in P.E.I., but was frustrated at what she perceived as health workers who did not display any care about her sister’s attempt to access treatment.

She would like to see at least a separate waiting area in the hospital for addicted Islanders waiting for treatment.

“Even if you can keep them there overnight until you can get in touch with a family doctor or psychiatrist,” Myers said.

“If somebody is asking for help, you should be able to give it to them.”

Organizations: Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Alcoholics Anonymous

Geographic location: Mount Herbert, Charlottetown

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • The real facts
    February 05, 2014 - 15:56

    The facts, the point of this article was to point out that PEI needs a better system for islanders with drug addiction. You should be able to get into a detox center right away, not days. This is not an editorial About a woman complaining about sitting in an ER for 8 hours.

  • MARIAH ALLEN
    February 05, 2014 - 15:18

    I AGREE WITH THIS FAMILIY SO MUCH WHEN I HAD A FAMILY MEMBER DETOXING IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT TO GET THEM INTO SOMEWHERE WHEN I KNEW IT WAS THE ONE CHANCE WE WOULD GET TO GET HER SOBER. ITS FRUSTRATING THE GOV'T COMPLAINS OF THE ADDICTION RATES ON PEI BUT DOES NOTHING TO HELP THE PEOPLE THAT NEED AND WANT IT. YET THEY FORCE PEOPLE TO BE IN MOUNT HERBERT WHO DONT WANT TO BE THERE AND ARE FORCED BY THE COURTS. YOU CANNOT HELP THOSE WITH ADDICTION WHO DONT WANT HELP.

    • upset
      February 06, 2014 - 09:09

      Finally someone who knows what they're talking about surrounding addictions. Mt Herbert doesn't work!! I'm appauled that a patient had to wait 8 hours at QEH. When you have a person who is ready to commit to treatment there has to be an immediate access to help. People who have commented otherwise have no idea what families and friends have to go through when the addict is awaiting treatment and when that person finally makes decision to seek help. We need changes NOW to addiction services. Sending them back out into their communities for out patient services DOESN"T work.

    • upset
      February 06, 2014 - 10:04

      Finally someone who knows what they're talking about surrounding addictions. Mt Herbert doesn't work!! I'm appauled that a patient had to wait 8 hours at QEH. When you have a person who is ready to commit to treatment there has to be an immediate access to help. People who have commented otherwise have no idea what families and friends have to go through when the addict is awaiting treatment and when that person finally makes decision to seek help. We need changes NOW to addiction services. Sending them back out into their communities for out patient services DOESN"T work.

  • Matthew
    February 05, 2014 - 10:14

    Just trying to build some bridges here, but if the patient is interested in receiving treatment check out Teen Challenge GTA. It's a rehabilitation centre in Ontario for women over 18 years old. www.tcgta.ca Hopefully this is helpful.

  • THE FACTS
    February 05, 2014 - 09:58

    If I understand this correctly you feel that the entire medical profession should be on standby UNTIL your sister is ready. Everyone else can wait because she is ready. Did you bother to take into consideration that other people have medical problems also and require attention, some of them immediate. Many who read this paper have waited more then 8 hours for treatment, what makes you think you are so special because your sister is ready. If she was ready you would not have left.

    • Wowed as always
      February 05, 2014 - 12:32

      I really love how people are so quick to get offensive towards the people an article revolves around. She did not think she was special-- she is trying to help her sister-- not many people would spend time trying to do that-- and as she said 8 hours was too long for her "sister" to wait!! Don't put everything in a black and white perspective!! Now if you had simply stated that you agree that it should have been accommodated for this circumstance fine-- point taken! But get over the tisking-- it's not your proving your superiority! Think before you speak- your name is The Facts-- stick to those! Opinion is not fact!!