If you follow me on social media or are a friend of my family you are likely aware that my father underwent surgery last week. I’d like to share with you our experience with the health care system.

Care wise, we would be hard pressed to ask for better. Dad had his initial stroke on March 13th. He underwent testing in Innisfail and Red Deer March 18-21. After it was determined that Dad had an 80% blockage in his left carotid artery, he was summoned to the Peter Lougheed hospital on March 23rd. The surgeon, Dr Wong, happened to be on call in the ER that weekend and, after a conversation with our family doctor, requested that Dad be brought in so he could be expedited through the process. She spent a great deal of time with us, going over every detail of the surgery, addressing our concerns and ensuring that we fully understood the procedure he would undergo. He signed the consent and was admitted to the hospital.

Dad had, for the most part, wonderful nurses and caregivers who were respectful and attentive. They took care to explain the process and reasons for everything they did. Dad commented repeatedly on how much hospital care has changed in the last number of years. He said he had only one “old school” nurse who was bossy and brusque. I must agree that, from my observation, nearly all of the hospital staff, from surgeons to housekeeping staff were down right superb.

My father was spared from inevitable crescendo-ing  strokes. The speed with which he was treated – they say that if surgery occurs within two weeks of the initial stroke, that the chances of recurring stroke are significantly diminished – is nothing short of miraculous. I cannot say enough about the people we encountered in the Alberta Health System.

The shocker for me were the conditions. Don’t get me wrong — my father had great facility along with great people. But that was not the case for everyone.

One day, when my father had been freshly settled into his post-op room, I saw a man, another patient, come in to my dad’s room and use the bathroom. I found that a bit disconcerting, so I mentioned it to the nurse. She proceeded to inform me that this man needed to use the bathroom in my father’s room because he had no bathroom. He had no bathroom because he was sleeping in the tub room. Soon after that I was walking down the hallway and came upon an elderly gentleman sleeping on a bed in the hallway. There was a curtain pulled part way around him (though not enough to prevent me from seeing his diaper). This was his “room”. We were told this is the “new normal”.

I could look out the window in my dad’s room and see, across the courtyard, and entire wing standing empty; closed. It is stunning to me that people are convalescing in tub rooms and hallways while bone fide rooms are closed. This is 21st Century cutting edge health care??

I know we have a deficit problem as a province and that cuts had to take place somewhere to try to dig us out but this is ridiculous. We are the wealthiest province in one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Our economy is strong, and on the upswing. Yes, let’s deal with the deficit, but I strenuously object to having Alberta’s elders lying exposed in hospital hallways. Come on, people — we can do better than this!!

At any rate, my own dad is home and recovering well, much anticipating the day when he can shave over the incision area. We’re thankful for the wonderful and speedy service he received, and infinitely appreciative that it wasn’t him sleeping in the hallway.

Tell me what you think.