Family questions long wait at Langley hospital

A baby with a severed finger had to wait more than four hours at Langley Memorial Hospital’s emergency department for treatment July 16.

Nine-month-old Clark Haddrell was playing with his three-year-old sister Wednesday when his finger got caught in a door.

“It took off all the fleshy bit at the end, including the whole nail,” said Clark’s grandma Christina Haddrell. “There was blood everywhere.”

Dad Shaun heard the slam and the ensuing scream and saw the tip of the finger — about the size of a pea — on the carpet with blood all over the place.

The panicked father put the finger tip on ice in an insulated lunch bag then rushed Clark from their Surrey home to the closest hospital, arriving at Langley Memorial emergency just past 8 p.m.

“When we got there, they basically wouldn’t look at him,” said Shaun, 34. “They gave us some bandages and Tylenol then stuck us in the waiting room for four and a half hours.”

The emergency ward was packed with dozens of patients with only two doctors on duty, said Shaun. Some patients looked like they only had minor injuries and didn’t need urgent care, including a man with a “scratch” on his shin, yet were treated first.

Shaun said they asked for more ice for the lunch bag containing Clark’s severed finger tip, which they brought in the hopes doctors could re-attach it. They were turned down and told by a nurse doctors wouldn’t be able to do anything with the fingertip anyway.

When Christina asked the triage nurse when they could expect to see a doctor, the nurse started “going on about budget cutbacks and how understaffed they were.”

“It was appalling to listen to,” said Christina. “I don’t want to hear about government funding at the moment. I want my grandson to see a doctor. Don’t let him slip through the cracks because there’s no money in this.”

Clark wasn’t treated by a doctor until past midnight.

The experience had the Haddrells questioning the state of B.C.’s overburdened health-care system and its ability to serve patients.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Terry Lake gave Fraser Health an extra $60 million over two years to help with overcrowding in its acute-care facilities.

Langley Memorial’s ER sees more than 44,000 patients every year, according to the B.C. Emergency Care website, which advocates for more resources in emergency departments across B.C. Langley’s ER got a failing mark for overcrowding, as did many other B.C. emergency rooms.

Christina Haddrell tried to get help for her grandson elsewhere, calling B.C. Children’s Hospital and Surrey Memorial, which had opened a new pediatric ER last fall. They, too, had long waits.

Contacted by The Province, Fraser Health acknowledged the family’s wait and apologized for their experience.

“We are very sorry. When anyone has to wait for emergency care, especially with a child, it is very stressful,” said Martha Cloutier, director of emergency program at Langley Memorial. Cloutier said she does not know how many patients were in the ER Wednesday night, but said it was a busy evening.

She said ER patients are triaged upon arrival and that Clark was triaged “properly.” She said the Haddrells can file a formal complaint with the hospital to discuss their concerns.

On Thursday, Clark’s stitched-up finger was shorter and bandaged, but he was in good spirits. Doctors were unable to sew the severed bit back on, but there was some nail bed left over so his nail might grow back.

The family, however, remains upset over their ER wait.

“They should be embarrassed at their lack of funding,” said Christina. “What is wrong with our medical system when an infant with his finger severed can’t even get a priority?”

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