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Hearst patient dies while waiting for a transfer to a larger hospital | CBC News


A patient at the Notre-Dame Hospital in Hearst died as he was waiting to be transferred to a health facility better suited to deliver the care he needed. 

France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt and NDP health critic, says Ornge’s air ambulance experienced delays in delivering its service as it had to follow protocols. 

By the time they had the green light to leave Hearst the pilots had reached the end of their shift and a new crew needed to be brought in, according to Gélinas. 

Ornge’s director coommunications and public affairs, James MacDonald, says the organization is currently reviewing the details of its involvement in the patient’s care. 

He adds that he cannot comment further due to patient privacy concerns. 

Notre-Dame Hospital CEO Liza Fortier says it has opened an investigation into the case, in collaboration with the province’s Ministry of Health. 

She also says no further information can be shared at this time, to respect the family’s wishes. 

“If we released details, as we are a small town, it would probably help to identify the patient. Therefore we will not say anymore,” she said.

NDP calls for funding, staffing and review of protocols

Gélinas believes this case is part of a wider problem with northern Ontario’s emergency transport system. 

She says Ornge is an integral part of bringing “equity of access to tertiary care” but that governments have paid very little attention to it recently. 

“Ornge is dealing with protocols that haven’t been looked at in so long,” said Gélinas. 

“Health care changes all the time, so procedures need to be brought up to date.” 

France Gélinas in an orange blazer
France Gélinas is the New Democrat Member of Provincial Parliament. (Aya Dufour/CBC News)

Gélinas adds that chronic staffing and funding issues are preventing air ambulances like Ornge from “meeting exponential demand.”

In the meantime, she says situations like the one of the patient in Hearst prompt worry and anger in the community and surrounding areas. 

“They’re scared,” said Gélinas. “They say, what if it was my dad, my husband, my brother, or my wife? What if it was me?” 


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