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Woman says husband’s head injury caused by crumbling healthcare system

Man suffers seizure, head gash after being prematurely released from hospital according to his wife

The wife of a Prince Rupert man who suffered a six-inch laceration on his head and a concussion after being released from the hospital says he should not have been sent home. She fears the incident is indicative of a worsening healthcare situation in the city.

Tish Losier woke up March 19 to her husband, Joe Budnisky, who has epilepsy, having a seizure. She immediately called for an ambulance. An ambulance showed up soon after, but when it arrived at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital at 6:30 a.m., the emergency room was still closed, only opening at 8 a.m. before closing again at 3 p.m. the same day.

The emergency room in Prince Rupert has seen six closures since March 8 due to a physician shortage, causing increasing concern and frustration for residents as rumours swirl of up to eight doctors leaving the area or retiring soon. (Editor’s note: The Northern View has not been able to confirm the number of physicians leaving or retiring, but Northern Health says it is aware of several and that three new ones are arriving before year-end.)

While waiting for the emergency room to open, Losier said Budnisky had more seizures in the ambulance before he was seen. When the emergency room opened, she said the hospital was already overwhelmed.

“They just said, ‘we don’t have the beds or the staff and you have to take him home.’ I knew it wasn’t right,” she told The Northern View.

“He never should have been released this morning.”

Losier said when her husband has seizures he is usually held for an extended period at the emergency room before being released, but was only tended to briefly this time before being sent back home. There, another seizure caused him to fall head-first onto a concrete block.

“We’re walking between the car and the house and he had another seizure mid-walk and fell directly into a cement block, knocked his front tooth out and split his head wide open,” she said.

“I could see his skull, like it was right down to the bone and he was bleeding everywhere, it was awful.”

When she called for an ambulance again, there were none available.

With no ambulance available Losier called on her neighbours for help.

“I got a friend and two of my neighbours and we got him into the back of the neighbour’s car and we got him back to the ER,” she said.

He was treated and released again, but the couple had to return a third time after Budnisky began vomiting blood, which Losier said was related to the concussion.

“From literally the moment I opened my eyes and him having a seizure in bed, the entire day was a nightmare,” Losier said.

”It was traumatizing, I don’t know if there’s another word for it.”

Losier said she regrets not taking her husband to Terrace in the morning, where she believes he would have received more comprehensive treatment.

”I don’t think they would have released him that quickly from Terrace. I think they would have maybe taken a better look,” she said.

“Instead of being rushed at 8 a.m. with a crowd of people, they’d have it more under control and been able to triage us properly and given the care that he needed… every time I look at him I have to wonder, ‘what would have happened if I took him to Terrace’.”

Losier — who herself has had serious health complications — now worries this means the couple will have to rely on the emergency room for basic treatment, which is what she believes is a key reason for the perceived poor quality of care her husband received on March 19.

”We call for an ambulance and there’s no ambulance available. I mean, sometimes that’s just life in the North, but you hope that they prioritize this stuff,” she said.

Losier and Budnisky were notified last week they will also be losing their family physician.

Budnisky, who was born and raised in Prince Rupert and Losier, who has lived in the city for eight years, are now considering leaving due to the healthcare issues the area faces.

“It’s been an absolute nut-show for us medically, everything’s in Vancouver,” she said.

“What are we going to do? There’s going to be a point where I have to make a call. Where do I take him? Maybe I’ll take a leave of absence or some vacation from my workplace and just go somewhere so they can get him to a stable point. He’s not stable, these seizures aren’t stable right now, and nobody’s addressing that.”

Northern Health said they have been working around the clock to prevent emergency room closures and recruit new physicians for the region.

READ MORE: Physicians departing and ER closures put Prince Rupert on red alert

About the Author: Seth Forward, Local Journalism Initiative

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