Man dies during Preeceville hospital closure

Another rural hospital with locked doors; NDP wants a new rural health strategy

Floyd Head had a heart attack in his home just a block away from the Preeceville Hospital, but it took seven hours to get him to Regina – too late to save his life.

The NDP says rural hospitals with locked doors, intermittent hours and understaffing are hurting patients’ access to health care. The NDP is calling for a review of rural health care, and a new strategy to meet the need.

In June, the government shut down the Preeceville emergency room every second week, putting it on “bypass” in alternate weeks, forbidding ambulances from stopping there. On June 28, Head, 74, had chest pains in his home in Preeceville. An ambulance arrived at 11 p.m.

During the long trip to Yorkton, with no emergency department to stop at to have clot-blocking medication administered, Head went from being conscious and talking, to unresponsive. In Yorkton, he received some treatment but was rerouted to Regina, and arrived via airlift at 6 a.m. on June 29, seven hours after calling the ambulance in Preeceville.

“People who live in Preeceville, Assiniboia, Craik, Biggar, Central Butte and other communities have had their health care services clawed back or disrupted,” said NDP Health critic Danielle Chartier.

“We’ve heard from moms in Preeceville who are scared for their kids. We’ve spoken with seniors in Craik who are furious the government refused to let them keep their full-time doctor and their ER. And we’ve heard from families and community leaders who say the government is not taking the potentially deadly problem of rural health claw backs seriously.”

Head’s son, David Head, will never know if his dad could have survived with quicker access to treatment – but he said no person should have such a long wait in an emergency. David Head is still waiting for his messages to the minister of health and the health region quality of care coordinator to be returned.

“Making cuts and creating a toxic environment driven by John Black Lean in which health professionals are expected to do more with less – these things are not helping with the recruitment of physicians and nurse practitioners,” said Chartier. “It’s time to consult health professionals and put a new strategy in place for rural Saskatchewan so no one is far from 24-hour emergency care.”