Legally blind Tsawwassen senior upset by night at Delta Hospital

Tsawwassen resident Vivian Fitzpatrick, 90, was upset that she was discharged from Delta Hospital at 2 a.m. in her pajamas. - Adrian MacNair photo
Tsawwassen resident Vivian Fitzpatrick, 90, was upset that she was discharged from Delta Hospital at 2 a.m. in her pajamas.
— image credit: Adrian MacNair photo

Fraser Health has apologized for an incident that took place Monday after a 90-year-old legally blind woman was discharged from Delta Hospital at 2 a.m. and put into a taxi cab.

Vivian Fitzpatrick, a resident of Tsawwassen since 1964, said she had nausea, a headache, a throbbing pain in her leg, and a blood pressure reading of 206/80 around 10 p.m. so she called an ambulance.

The paramedics came and insisted she go to Delta Hospital to get checked out.

Fitzpatrick agreed, leaving in only her pajamas and nothing on her feet.

"I just didn't think to bring slippers," said Fitzpatrick during an interview on Thursday.

Her live-in caregiver immediately phoned her daughter, Paddy Munro, to let her know what was happening.

Munro didn't drive to the hospital, since she was familiar with her mother being taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons. Given the late hour, she assumed she would visit first thing in the morning.

Fitzpatrick was rushed to the emergency where nurses read her blood pressure, added an intravenous drip and did blood tests and X-rays.

After she was declared stable, Fitzpatrick thought she was going to get a hospital bed for the night.

"I was trying to go to sleep, I was so tired," she said.

But when Munro called the hospital at 7 a.m. to ask if she could pick up her mother she was shocked by the answer of the person on the other end.

"The person said she had departed emergency," said Munro, who was flabbergasted. "That's not a term you want to hear associated with a hospital. And I said, pardon?"

She was transferred to another person who informed her that the discharge had happened at around 2 a.m.

"I said, not possible, I wasn't called."

Munro hung up the phone and called her mother. She couldn't believe it when she answered.

It was around 2 a.m. when hospital nurses told Fitzpatrick she was being discharged and rolled her in a wheelchair to the waiting room as they called a taxi cab.

"I was saying that I was freezing to death because I was so cold with no shoes," said Fitzpatrick.

A nurse took sympathy on her and was given a white sheet to wrap around her shoulders, she added.

When the taxi arrived she said she walked out in the pouring rain and wind in nothing more than hospital socks.

Since she didn't have any money for the taxi ride she asked the hospital to call her caregiver to scrounge up some change. Fitzpatrick was worried she wouldn't be able to pay for the ride when she got home.

During the ride, Fitzpatrick felt something wet in the taxi and figured it was just water from the rain. But when she got home her caregiver spotted the sheet, which was covered in blood. The blood flow from intravenous drip hadn't been properly staunched.

Although on Tuesday Fitzpatrick said she would rather die than visit the hospital again, she has since changed her mind.

"I feel bad because I'm just stressed and upset," she explained. "I said I didn't want to go back to the hospital. But it was the conditions I didn't care for at the time."

Neither mother or daughter are blaming Delta Hospital, the nurses, or the doctors.

"Me and mom believe this is Fraser Health and the citizens of Delta should be asking what they're doing to our hospital to have caused this to happen," said Munro.

Fraser Health released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for the incident.

"Fraser Health is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our patients.

"This is a very unfortunate incident and Fraser Health has apologized to the family for any inconvenience and distress this may have caused.  Out of respect for patient confidentiality, we cannot discuss the details of the case, but we can reassure the family and the public that we are taking this very seriously.

"In instances when a patient is discharged and there is no one to escort them home, Fraser Health contacts either a family member or a caregiver to make the necessary arrangements.  At times, patients are sent home by taxi and we ensure they are met, and assisted, when they arrive.

"We are working with the family through the Patient Care and Quality Office to ensure this type of situation does not occur again and appreciate their support and understanding through this process."

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