A Lac La Hache family is encouraging locals to plan ahead when navigating medical emergencies following a stressful experience earlier this month.
Samantha Tracey went to 100 Mile District General Hospital on the evening of Aug. 16, suffering from a severe headache and fever. She was then taken by ambulance to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops for further testing, due to the severity of her symptoms.
“Because I had the Astra vaccine they were worried about blood clots, and because of some of my symptoms, they were worried about meningitis,” Tracey, 21, explained.
She arrived in Kamloops around 3 a.m. Following more than 12 hours of tests, which revealed no conclusive cause of her symptoms, she was discharged just before 6 p.m.
Because she had travelled to Kamloops by ambulance, Tracey didn’t have anyone with her to drive her back to Lac La Hache following her discharge. She said a nurse “offered to call her a cab” but Tracey didn’t have her wallet with her, nor would she have been able to pay such a hefty taxi bill.
Her mom, Elaine Kerr, had been out of town camping over the weekend, but happened to return home early to receive her daughter’s messages for a ride home.
“I was supposed to be camping till Wednesday but I happened to leave early,” Kerr explained. “She wouldn’t have had me to come and get her.”
Tracey spent three hours waiting in the hospital corridor before her mom arrived to pick her up; the family didn’t make it back to Lac La Hache until around midnight.
Kerr said she wanted to share the details of what happened as a warning to others who might end up in the same – or worse – situation. She said she was shocked when a social media post she had made about the ordeal garnered dozens of responses from people who had experienced a similar dilemma.
“It’s not the care that she received or anything else – they knew she had come from here,” she said. “She’s in her pyjamas, she didn’t have her wallet. She’s disoriented and hadn’t eaten for 30 hours. This turned out to be not so bad, but some of the other stories out there… it could have been worse.”
An Interior Health spokesperson told the Free Press via email that a social worker is on staff at the hospital to “support patients to arrange their travel home if they are unable to make independent arrangements.”
“In the unlikely situation where travel cannot be rearranged, we will check to see if housing can be coordinated until they are able to access transportation home,” the spokesperson said.
Tracey said a social worker only checked in on her once, nearly two hours after she had been discharged, once her mom was already on her way from Lac La Hache.
While the family is grateful for the care Tracey received – and that medical staff were thorough with their testing efforts – they said implementing a daily bus back-and-forth between hospitals, as well as a waiting room for those who don’t immediately have a ride home, would make a world of difference during a stressful situation.
“Even if the bus costs the person $25, that’s money well spent as far as I’m concerned,” Kerr said. “I’m not saying everything has to be free. But having the ability to say, ‘get on that bus and I’ll pay for it,’ would be great.”
Should the need for a trip to Royal Inland Hospital arise again, Tracey said she will plan ahead this time.
“If they want to send me down to Kamloops again, I’m going to schedule the testing. That way, I can arrange a ride home,” she said. “I can’t just be stuck down there.”