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Parents say they waited hours for help at B.C. ER while their daughter’s condition worsened

‘What is wrong with our health care system?’ mom asks
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Parents of two-year-old Gracie Ackley said her condition steadily worsened while they spent hours waiting for assistance at the Langley Memorial Hospital ER on Jan. 26. (Ackley family - used with permission)

Parents of a two-year-old girl with pneumonia say her condition steadily worsened while they spent hours waiting for assistance at the Langley Memorial Hospital emergency ward.

Langley City residents Joel and Stefanie Ackley picked up their daughter Gracie from daycare and took her to LMH on Thursday, Jan. 26, after the toddler developed shortness of breath and a fever.

They said they waited from 3:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. the next day before their daughter was diagnosed, and it was not until Joel raised his voice that action was finally taken.

Stefanie said after their information was taken on arrival at the ER, they were sent to sit and wait, without a physical exam.

“While waiting, our daughter drastically declined, becoming lethargic and unable to stand, ” Stefanie said.

She estimated Gracie was breathing at a rate of four breaths every two seconds with “extreme discomfort.”

A video provided by the parents shows Gracie coughing and struggling to breathe.

When Grace’s temperature was finally taken, around 5:45 p.m., her parents estimated she was running a fever of 103.3 F with 90 per cent of normal oxygen levels.

She was given Tylenol.

“[Gracie’s fever] came down by a whole two degrees while we were sent to, yet again, sit and wait,” Stefanie said.

By 9 p.m., when Joel asked a nurse if someone could come look at Gracie, the parents say they were told “we were lucky to even have a room and that we should be happy we even got a bed.”

When a frustrated Joel raised his voice, saying “can we please just have someone look at my daughter?” the parents say the nurse threatened to kick them out.

That brought another nurse, who asked what the issue was.

On explanation, the second nurse examined the two-year-old, then called the ER doctor in, who ordered blood work and an X-ray that, by 1 a.m., confirmed Gracie had pneumonia.

“The doctor and two nurses that helped my little one — once they finally realized the severity of the situation — they were amazing, and I thank these individuals,” Stefanie said.

“But what is wrong with our health-care system, why is there such a lack of care and organization, and a shortage of staff, and why are these kinds of situations not dealt with properly?” she added.

As of Monday, Gracie was doing a “bit better,” Joel told the Langley Advance Times.

“Her fever has broken, but her breathing is still raspy. She’s on puffers and antibiotics.”

READ ALSO: Canadians worried about the state of provincial health systems: poll

Joel said the family is going public with their story “because this is definitely a serious matter – that us, as parents, can’t have trust or faith in our heath system. We are definitely lucky the outcome was not more severe.”

“This is not fair to our children, or anyone who is is in need of medical attention,” Joel added.

Since he posted details to a private Facebook community page, Joel said he has been inundated with comments from people who report similar problems of excessive delays.

Langley Advance Times has reached out the Fraser Health Authority for a response.

READ ALSO: Health-care labour shortage a long time coming

READ MORE: B.C. needs to invest in primary care to stem the bleeding of family doctors from rural areas


Have a story tip? Email: dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com
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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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