An exceptional patient experience, every step of the way

By Peter Moore, a grateful loved one

If you know someone who works in the health care system, feel free to share this with your own words of appreciation for their service. This is not a short story, so feel free to scroll to the conclusion at the bottom if you don’t have time for all the details.

The beginning

Mom, (Joyce Moore) was visiting us in Moncton on Sunday, Aug. 28 and because she is 82 going on 55, she decided to go outside and take some laundry in off the line. We have a small drop (about two feet) off our back deck, and she missed the step and fell on her right side and back in the gravel below.

Thankfully, my wife Ellen was outside too, and by her side in half a nano-second. She was in significant pain, and we would later learn she had a broken hip and hairline fracture in her upper spine. She was conscious but remained still so she could assess where the damage had occurred.

We called 911 and the operator was fantastic. They stayed on the phone with us asking critical care questions until the ambulance turned onto our street just a few minutes later. The three paramedics promptly engaged and put her in a neck brace. They skillfully asked the questions you would expect, all the while doing so with an excellent “gravel-side” manner of care and concern.

They gently placed her on the gurney board, and I followed in my own car to the Emergency Department (ED) at Horizon’s The Moncton Hospital (TMH).

Arriving at the Emergency Department

After a quick COVID-19 screening, I was given a clearance sticker and was by Mom’s side in the admitting area to watch how she was served. The paramedics stayed by her side and worked with the desk clerk as they all exchanged playful banter about retired nurses being the worst patients (which Mom, a retired nurse, had initiated).

After a few minutes she had her own room in the ED and we prepared for a long wait, which never happened. This had all happened in less than an hour from when she had fallen on Sunday evening.

After another hour, they took her for imaging on her affected areas and provided pain management medication that was… well, just what the doctor ordered.

After reviewing the results, the ED doctor informed us she had a broken hip, but there were several orthopedic surgeons available who could fix the problem. He also ordered an additional CAT scan on her neck and shoulders.

Two doctors carefully reviewed this but were unable to find anything conclusive at that point and determined her upper back and shoulder pain was related to how she had landed on her arm when she fell and was likely a muscle strain.

After a few hours of tests and interaction with nursing staff who provided pain medication as needed, Mom was admitted to the orthopedic ward at TMH, and given a bed in the middle of the night. I headed home for some sleep to return in the morning.

Surgery performed 18 hours after initial fall

At the time of her arrival on the unit, there had been a COVID-19 outbreak, so only two Designated Support Persons (DSPs) were allowed. When I went to the hospital’s DSP coordinator to register, he offered to process my training on the spot and about 10 minutes later I received an email with my DSP confirmation to be with Mom 24/7 as needed.

The COVID-19 outbreak unit restrictions were lifted by the end of the day and other family members have been able to visit during regular hours.

Her nurses were busy but very available anytime she pushed the help button. They made us feel well served and had a clear desire to make sure she has everything she needs to be as comfortable as possible. As the day went on and she was preparing for her surgery, her upper back was giving her a lot of trouble.

After about 18 hours from the time she fell, Mom was wheeled into hip surgery to have her broken bone pinned. There was a small accident when she was being moved from the operating room table back to the gurney, where she fell again, but it was a controlled slip to the floor.

They called us and told us what had happened and that they were going to send her for another X-ray and CAT scan just to make sure everything was OK. We were grateful for their transparency about this human error and for the attention they gave to ensure she was fine.

The physiotherapy staff on the unit have been the most empathetic and supportive. Mom began walking with support the morning after her surgery, but the extra work required for her shoulders was excruciating.

The team communicated with each other and in less than 24 hours after her operation the surgeon ordered her a neck brace after finding a very small hairline fracture in her upper right spine upon closer review of the CAT scan. While this means a less convenient path to recovery, it is necessary and would not have been discovered without the collaboration of her support team.

Recovering at TMH

At the time of writing this, we were on Day 3 of her hospital stay, and she will likely be here at least another two days or so. She is enjoying the food and gets to select options from the menu daily. Her first meal was broccoli with a nicely prepared baked potato and a large portion of salmon covered with dill sauce.

Grateful for exceptional care

In conclusion, the doctors, nurses, orderly personnel, food services staff, cleaning staff, physio, imaging and radiology, porters, clerks, etc. have all been professional, positive, upbeat, empathetic, and timely.

I hear stories from time-to-time of negative experiences with Canadian health care. Our experience this week has not been even remotely so, and I hope our medical professionals know how much we appreciate them!

So, the moral of the story is, don’t help other people with their laundry chores unless you live in a country filled with quality and amazing health care professionals!

Peter Moore posted this story on Facebook and granted Horizon permission to share it.

It has been translated and edited for clarity and to add proper names and links. We have also added subheads for easier readability.