Stranded patient finally returns home

Alain Bourdeau was in a boating accident on May 9 that left him with multiple broken ribs, a punctured lung and a collapsed lung.

Linda Findlay helped her husband

Linda Findlay helped her husband

After a boating accident that nearly killed him, and a medical system that left him stranded in Edmonton with broken ribs and a punctured lung, a Maple Ridge man is finally home, recovering and feeling loved by friends.

Alain Bourdeau, taking a vocational course at Northern Lights College in Fort St. John, was in a boating accident on May 9 that left him with multiple broken ribs, a punctured lung and a collapsed lung. Unable to breath properly, his condition was life-threatening, and the hospital in Fort St. John transferred him by air ambulance to Edmonton’s University of Alberta Hospital.

He was in intensive care for eight days, with a breathing tube and more tubes in his chest. His wife Linda Findlay, who flew out to be with him, was told they would be taken by air ambulance back to B.C.

But last Wednesday he was discharged, and the Alberta hospital’s position was that travel arrangements and expenses were the patient’s responsibility. Bourdeau was unable to fly at high altitude, because of his lung injuries. He was in pain, weak, and couldn’t walk for more than a block.

An incensed Findlay was interviewed about their plight by television reporters from CTV Edmonton. She resolved to stay in Edmonton longer, so he could regain strength.

Thursday morning, Bourdeau woke up in extreme pain, and having soaked his bandages with blood. She took him to emergency.

Since then, the couple’s situation has improved considerably.

Bourdeau’s wounds were treated, he was given a prescription for pain, and Findlay received extra bandages to re-dress his wounds.

Findlay got them onto a Via Rail train, in a lower berth, where Bourdeau could lay down. Via went the extra mile to make sure he was comfortable, but the jostling train movements sent pain shooting through his fractured rib cage.

“His pain, on a scale of 1-10, was a 10,” said Findlay.

She thought they would have to abort the trip. Findlay got off the train in Jasper, and got Bourdeau some sleeping pills. With that, he was able to cope.

Including Via and SkyTrain, it was a 30-hour journey home that seemed twice that long for the couple.

With the media attention their case received, some of their friends set up a Facebook page to try and raise money to cover the costs of their long ordeal.

By Baileys Pub in Maple Ridge hosted a benefit jam for them on Tuesday night, when items from G.G. Music and others were raffled in a fundraiser. Marina Kossen, Mark Thoreson and Frank Johnson were just some of the people who stepped up to help the couple.

They raised $1,600.

Findlay volunteers to help out others in the community.

“But I’ve never been the recipient. I’ve learned the impact it has. It’s incredible. It’s very helpful. It has eased the stress.”

Bourdeau has a good prognosis for recovery.

“He’s recouping, we’re here, and we love Maple Ridge.”

There are still some loose ends Findlay wants to tie up.

Via Rail offered to give her a complimentary ticket, acknowledging that she was on the trip to attend to Bourdeau. Via only needs the doctor who released him to confirm the patient was released into her care. So far she has received nothing from the Alberta hospital that will help her get that $600 ticket reimbursed.

Also, she would like an explanation of why Fort Saint John hospital is sending patients to Edmonton, given the difficult journey back, once they are discharged and on their own.

The distance by air is 558 km from Fort St. John to Edmonton, while the distance to Prince George, the largest Interior centre in B.C., would be just 285 km.