Canadian couple details recent nightmare at state-run QEH

In light of what they describe as a “horrifying” 15-hour ordeal in the Accident & Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) last month, a traumatized Canadian couple is appealing to Barbadian authorities to take immediate steps to improve patient care at the state-run health care institution.

Speaking to Barbados TODAY from his home in Stouffville, Ontario, Canada this afternoon, David Taylor detailed what he said was nothing short of the couple’s “worst nightmare”,  which also ruined their month-long honeymoon.

David, 61, and his wife Pamela, 64, were married last June in Canada but had only travelled to Barbados on January 9 for their honeymoon in “paradise”.

The ordeal started just after 5 p.m. on Friday, January 16, a week after their arrival.

The couple had decided to take a swim in the Hot Pot at Brighton Beach, where they got engaged in January last year.

“When we started to get out of the ocean as it was getting very rough at high tide, my wife’s left leg got stuck in the sticky muck deposited by that Hot Pot,” said David, who explained that in addition to a broken leg, his wife almost drowned after she was knocked over by giant waves.

“I was thankfully just behind her but had difficulty dragging her out of the ocean as I too was stuck in the muck but managed to drag her on to the beach to safety,” he said, adding that “some local people, strolling on the beach just looked on offering no assistance at all, despite my wife’s screaming in pain”.

It was a vacationing family from Calgary, Alberta, who were staying next door to the couple’s Brighton apartment, who came to their rescue.

After a one hour wait, he said his wife was transported to QEH by ambulance.

“At no time did either of the ambulance attendants ask anything about my wife’s comfort or make any attempt to engage in conversation with us at all, leaving us feeling alone and alienated,” David said.

“The attendants simply drove us to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and placed my wife on a broken stretcher in the hallway of the emergency ward and then left,” he recalled, adding that “nothing prepared us for the ordeal we were to encounter that night and the next day in that hospital”.

“My wife still in her wet, sand filled, bathing suit, and only a wet towel to cover her, was left on a stretcher that was put close to the ground as she was told it was broken and could fall over.

“We were left like this in a crowded hallway where we were both completely ignored by all staff doctors and hospital personnel for hours on end. Whenever I attempted to ask questions from any hospital personnel or to inquire about getting any kind of pain relief for my wife, I was either ignored or told, ‘we will either get back to you’, or ‘someone else would deal with it’,” the visitor added.

He said despite his relentless pursuit to get some relief for his wife, he was met with “continuous indifference and a total lack of patient care, and compassion by all hospital staff”.

“Hours went by, with my wife in chronic pain and were continuously told they there was no ice to reduce the swelling on her broken leg and nothing for her pain. When my wife asked to go to the bathroom they said they could give us a bed pan, but then I had to ask several more times and everyone kept telling me someone else would have to get the bed pan.

“Another half hour passed before I pursued yet another hospital staff [member] who finally gave me a bed pan but no toilet paper or anything else to clean her up with,” he said.

The Canadian national, who is of Barbadian descent, said he was eventually given a small piece of gauze but his wife, who was in severe pain, was still forced to wait.

Pamela Taylor on her recovery bed at North York General Hospital in Toronto where  she received surgery for her broken leg on January 27.
Pamela Taylor on her recovery bed at North York General Hospital in Toronto where
she received surgery for her broken leg on January 27.

“Finally, an unfortunate elderly man, who was foaming from his mouth, passed away across the hall from us, and my wife was only then, allowed to relieve herself in the room he had previously just died in as they wheeled him away, uncovered, to an empty room at the end of the hall,” he said.

“After, about an hour and a half sitting in this room alone together waiting for staff to see us, no one came or seemed to notice that we were in this room. Once again I ventured out to inquire about seeing a doctor and was told by a nurse that they must have forgotten about us, as we were no longer in the hallway.

“Again I asked this hospital staff for some pain relief and ice and water and was once again told there was no ice, no water, no food, and only when a doctor was available could we ask for pain relief.”

The 61-year-old certified family therapist said his wife was eventually given an x-ray and informed by a doctor that she required surgery, but this could not be done during the weekend.

A plastic cast was placed on the injury before the exhausted and hungry couple could return to their apartment.

“When I asked for crutches we were told by the doctor that none could be given or rented and that we could not even get a wheel chair to a cab . . . .”

They then agreed to pay for a private ambulance, which took an hour and a half to arrive.

After the weekend, as directed by the QEH doctor, the couple contacted a private clinic to book an appointment for surgery. However, after discussions with their insurance company, they eventually decided to fly back to Canada for the surgical procedure to be done there.

“My wife and I incurred hundreds of dollars in expenses while in Barbados as a result of her injury for medication, loss of purchased food, emergency travelling expenses etc.

“Doctor’s consultation fees, not to forget the undue week-long stress as a result of the trauma we both experienced at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and back and forth dealings between the medical system in Barbados and our travel insurance company, while on our honeymoon.”

However, David made it clear he was not telling his story in order to get compensation, but merely in the hope that there could be better patient care at the QEH.

HAPPY TIMES: David Taylor and his wife Pamela after their wedding ceremony which was held in their backyard in Ontario, Canada last June.
HAPPY TIMES: David Taylor and his wife Pamela after their wedding ceremony which was held in their backyard in Ontario, Canada last June.

“It was a very difficult situation because we didn’t expect it was going to be that bad. I only found out after that there were cut backs at the hospital. Everything took us completely by surprise,” said David, who was surprised to learn, based on his recent experience, that the island had the best health care system in the Caribbean.

The couple said they contacted the Canadian consulate and tourism authorities while here and since they returned home. However, they did not receive a response from any of these entities. Nonetheless, David said he still loves Barbados, which is home to several of his relatives but he is unsure that his wife will ever return to the island.

Efforts to reach hospital CEO Dr Dexter James today for comment proved futile.


26 Responses to HONEYMOON HORROR

  1. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner February 19, 2015 at 1:05 am

    Maybe this coming from a tourist will get government attention because locals can’t.

  2. Rob February 19, 2015 at 1:11 am

    CEO reply should be informative
    Sounds like a real confusion on who tracks, does what. What a story for a man of Barbadian descent to take back,, great way to reduce tourism .
    EMT response sounds more like a driver not medical concern
    Quite sure dedicated staff but where on that shift 🙁

  3. Cornelius Drogo
    Cornelius Drogo February 19, 2015 at 2:20 am

    Is this the same QEH that in 2008, when the DLP got into power , the Minister of Health at the time, Dr. David Estwick said that he would clean up??

  4. Shelly Ross February 19, 2015 at 6:12 am

    Seems to me that this gentleman had a problem with everyone.
    No Barbadian looked at him while they were on the beach, the ambulance people did not say a word to him and the QEH was bad.

    For me to believe his account of what happened is a asking a bit much.

    Barbadians usually run to everyone to help and ambulance people are not going to sit with you and do not say a world.

    There is a wait at the QEH and his wife was in pain but so too were the several other patients that he found there. She remained wet. Did he bring a change of clothes? No one would have stopped him from changing her. I have seen that done.

    What was his behaviour like at the beach, in the ambulance and at the QEH?

    He puts the blame of a spoilt vacation on his ordeal, what about his responsibility while at the beach.

  5. Alex Alleyne February 19, 2015 at 6:52 am

    They are not saying anything that all in Barbados do not know . Just look at the POLITICANS, when one get sick , its off to MIAMI .The QEH is a place you go if you want to DIE.

  6. kathy-Ann Clarke February 19, 2015 at 8:30 am

    It is funny tho, Shelly Ross, I must admit, while reading, a lot of what you mentioned came racing through my mind. From the time at the beach, I had found it a bit strange that no one came to their rescue, also at the hospital, I know for a fact, seeing that they are what we consider as “white”, they woul’ve received some form of attention. Honestly , I think that some of these things did not occurr as he mentioned. Just my point of view.

  7. curiousastheyget February 19, 2015 at 8:48 am

    I agree that it does seem a little hard to believe that no one tried to help them while at the beach. Secondly, the ambulance techs had to speak at some time because how else would they have gotten his and her info.

    Also, are we supposed to provide dry clothing to her because she came in a swim suit…….duh…..go get her some dry clothes and he had planned a month long visit but because of this ordeal at the hospital all of a sudden he had to spend HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS………………….really now?

    I know QEH IS NOT THE BEST but I don’t appreciate when people come home or to the island and behave as if the average Bajan is a savage with no manners or care for human life.

  8. Watchman February 19, 2015 at 10:17 am

    This means that Barbados has arrived, no longer 3rd world but a developed nation. I say this because their experience mirrors that of my wife and myself when we had the misfortune to seek medical attention in Ottawa, Ontario our nation’s capital. The difference is that we are both Canadian citizens and have been dutifully paying our Ontario Health Premiums.
    Congratulations Bajans, the Dipper would be proud.

  9. Alex Currie February 19, 2015 at 10:27 am

    When I first started coming to Barbados in 1980 one of the things I was told was Barbados has good doctors. In the intervening years I have needed a doctor on only three occasions and found this to be true.
    While I never had the “pleasure” of needing the QEH, this is an appalling situation for and advanced country that has catered to the rich and famous for decades.
    When there is a rape or shooting of a tourist the government does a reasonable job of explaining it away lest it affect tourism. Seems to me that this has far more risk of effecting tourists if it gets out that the only nationally run hospital is a dump operated by indifferent and incompetent management, staff who reflect the leadership and equipment that is in itself unsafe for patients to use.

  10. E. Jerome Davis February 19, 2015 at 10:39 am

    This is real strange and out of character because Bajans usually run to help WHITE PEOPLE and bend over backwards for them. I would like the Media to stop printing these types of articles with the line “attempts to get a comment from…. proved futile”. Verify these stories before printing because no sort of retraction can undo the damage that is done by the first story. A day or so to get the other side won’t hurt.

  11. Alec Pierre February 19, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    I’m inclined to agree with Jerome Davis & Shelly Ross. I’m retired, a frequent Browne beach beachcomber and there is a sort of fraternity among all the regulars from lifeguards to jet ski operators, vendors etc. if or whenever someone encounters any sort of difficulty or distress on the beach or in the sea there is never a shortage of locals trying to help. I have, personally saved a youngster of about 12 years old who obviously could not get to a boat his group which was intraining was swimming towards. Unobserved by the leader no doubt, he broke away from the group as he tried to swim back ashore and shortly after was in obvious difficulty. My son and I went out to him and by the time we got to within about 20feet from the beach there were about five other persons who must have also observed and were on the spot in case they were needed. This is the nature of Bajans when they encounter such situations. In the current case, there seems to have been some attitudinal problem which may have, unfortunately , discouraged the rendering of appropriate assistance from beach to QEH.

    • josh February 19, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      I can’t comment on people’s actions on the beach, as I was there but, wasn’t it this week sometime that doctors at QEH muted their intention to take action due to poor conditions, lack of medicine, etc at QEH? In this light, is the man’s claims inexplicable?

      Bajan’s must stop following the PM’s example of insulting / belittling other people’s experience because it’s not what they want to believe or how they want to be perceived – it’s very petty and ignorant. The man is of Bajan descent; he says he’s not gonna sue; he is highlighting his experience to help Bajans!

      QEH has an awful reputation, Bajan’s with money or foreigners fly to the US or the UK rather than get treated there – that is a fact.

  12. Patrick Blackman February 19, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    I had a similar experience when I came home when my mum was ill. First she took ill at home so we had to call the ambulance, I knew it would take sometime as this was normal but what got me so angry was that when the guys came, they were so rude, its unbelievable .. “where she at. I got things to do man”, they did not even want to put her on the bed to take her to the ambulance, my brother and I had to put her on.

    To make it worst, they then asked me for a blanket to cover her (its my mother so I gave them one). When I went in the ambulance to my shock there was nothing in there, no medical supplies etc.. There was just one drip which the guy had hanging from a nail in the ambulance.

    He put in the drip so hard I could see the pain in my mums face when he didi it. To make things worse, the driver decided to blast reggae music all the way to the hospital driving in the most reckless manner to the point I had to shout at him.

    When we got to the hospital, the driver got out and walked over to some guys near to the entrance and started up a conversation leaving us locked in the back for about 5 mins. The second (attendant) had to shout out to him to come and open the back and to my surprise he said “give me a minute I talking hey”

    Eventually we got my mum into the hospital, she was just left by the side of the wall and no one came to look at her for over an hour, even though I try to make contact with several staff who were just there laying around talking and joking with each other. After about 2 hours a guy came to take her vitals and to my shock again the blood samples taken from my mum where right there in the bed with her. The only thing the guy who came said ” these is hers?” man can you believe this crap.

    We spent the whole night there and I had to say a fews words to some of the staff. First the security gaurd in the waiting area was blasting the radio all night event though there we people right there in beds. No dam consideration for anyone.

    There is a lot more to this story but I will let it go for now. The only refreshing thing that happened was that while waiting outside having a smoke , everyone who passed by said “good morning”.

  13. Nadia Grant February 19, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    When I was in the states, if you come with your clothes soiled or wet you were provided a shirt and pant, standard hospital issue,
    stop saying you find it hard to believe that nop one came to their aid on the beach, people do get rob, and people is look on and pass them by, not only during robberies but other instances as well

  14. Phyllis Wallace February 19, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Lol to Patrick. They are very polite with the Good Morning. Good Night. Being from Barbados, I try to have a positive attitude . But I too had a week long experience at QEH Nov/Dec. 2013. The Canadian gentleman is right on point. Workers are disgruntled, poor conditions, short on medical necessities and very poor equipment to work with. I still love my little island. But right is right and wrong is wrong. Wish there was a good answer for the situation.

  15. Rob February 19, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Why people pick apart the man’s experience especially as he is of Barbadian descent , has family here and not looking for compensation from anyone.
    It is probably that Barbadians being known to help and be friendly all of a sudden did not happen and he is shocked.
    As to wet clothes,,, well you be in his shoes, most of us would expect a gown or something offered. Leaving her to go back to room was last in his mind
    Some of the other stories here seem to confirm issues

  16. Lisa Styger February 19, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I hate to say this but was it because you were white? I have experienced different treatment from black people while the black people in the same situation were treated totally different then I was. I have seen black people rush to aid other black people and when it was a white person in the same situation they walked on and never even looked at them. I have seen this time and time again.

  17. colin February 19, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Triage takes too long at the QEH. Unfortunately we cannot tell from this story when this basic element of emergency care was performed. I have had occasions at the QEH when the triage nurse could not be found for 3 he’s.

  18. Judy Lorne February 19, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    How unfortunate……………………

  19. Tony Waterman February 20, 2015 at 3:09 am

    @David Taylor, Stouffville, Ontario, Canada.
    I am a Bajan also, and i am Living in Ottawa, Ontario.Canada, i also have been going back to Barbados every year since i came to Canada for a Month each time. The last time i visited the QEH was when my Late Mother was a patient there, and i must tell you that i Hope NEVER to have to be a Patient there, but saying that i must say this also, your Treatment cannot stand as the worst treatment ever meted out to a Hospital Patient, as far as iknow that has to be the two Patients one in Halifax Nova Scotia Canada, and the Aboriginal man in Manitoba Canada, who both died in the respective A&E Departments, whilst waiting to be attended to, and were not even found to be stone Cold Dead until they were finally Called Many Many Hours later.I am NOT Justifying anything all those Cases including yours were Dispicable.
    You Speak of Your Wife’s foot being stuck in The STICKY MUCK ” deposited by that Hot Pot,” Excuse me sir, there is NO STICKY MUCK at Brighton Beach, it a COMPLTETLY SAND BEACH, in your mind you are thinking of a LAKE somewhere in Ontario, and ASSUMING that the Bottom at Brighton is the same as the Bottom of a Lake in Ontario, not true Sir, THERE IS NO STICKY MUCK at Brighton BEACH, i Bathe there also Every Year and when i was a Young Lad.
    “some local people, strolling on the beach just looked on offering no assistance at all, despite my wife’s screaming in pain”. Perhaps you should have Calmed Down and told them what was Happening, instead of ASSUMING that they knew what was Happening, i am sure that they would have reacted Differently.
    The Attendants are NOT Paramedics,so there is not a lot they CAN say to you. their job is solely to get the Patient to the Hospital, in Ontario you don’t even get to sit in the Ambulance with the Patient.and Finally David !!! there are Cutbacks in Hospitals in Ontario also, and Canada is a RICH Country, the best Economy in the G8.
    Finally, you might be Part bajan, but you might have stayed away too long,and don’t understand what Pains Barbados is Currently going through.
    My best to you and your Wife, and i sincerely hope that she will recover fully.

  20. Carl February 23, 2015 at 9:24 am

    My family and i have been recipients of state care at QEH several times.

    IN 2005 I fell and broke my leg on the road. Luckily I had my cell phone, so I called for an ambulance. Bajans sheltered me from the rain until the ambulance arrived 20 minutes later. The guys were fantastic, putting the leg in an air splint which relieved the pain. This was at noon. By 5pm I had received a shot for the pain, been x-rayed, and the leg temporarily set in a temporary plaster cast. Fantastic care all round in the A&E. I went private after that as the QEH proces to see an orthopedic surgeon was frightfully long and my poor wife had enough stress to deal with.

    Fast forward to 2009 when my son needed emergency surgery. He went in for a CT scan and the surgeon sent him to OR same time. He spent a month in QEH, and had nothing but the best care for the whole month. The mosquitoes were awesome, though.

    Couple of years ago I had a procedure done there, again very caring people.

    Finally, this year my daughter had minor surgery and overnighted there. Absolutely no issues.

    I’ve therefore had lots of experience with the staff at QEH, and while I do not doubt what happened to the visitors, I can say that from my experience it must have been an unusual day. I will also say that one’s attitude is reflected by the people you deal with. In all cases where I have experienced their care my attitude was one of grateful thanks. An emergency room is probably one of the most stressful environments to work in, and workers there make life and death decisions daily, while understaffed, under paid, working long shifts. Cut them some slack.

  21. Susan G February 24, 2015 at 12:53 am

    February 23, 2015
    Ok with all the bad experiences and lack of equipment and supplies
    at the QEH , not to mention the hospitality issues. What are we Barbadians and friends of Barbados living abroad can do to help our country reach the standards of having an equip hospital where our family members living there can have a decent medical facility to go to when they are in need of treatment?

  22. O D A February 24, 2015 at 11:51 am

    My view is Hospitals should rename the Emergency Room similar patterns appear here in Ontario also.

  23. O D A February 24, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    This world is not my home iam just a passing through!Hospitals in my view should change the Name EMERGENCY ROOM think of it! the treatment one gets does not I repeat doesnot spell Emergency,the circumstances are similar here in Ontario ,thank God my family ,so far knock on ——- does not have to go through such ordealsto God be the Glory !


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