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Edmonton family speaks out after father allegedly denied care at clinic
Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton
Published Wednesday, March 27, 2013 2:37PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 27, 2013 6:09PM MDT
An Edmonton family is calling for a formal investigation after they say they were refused care at a south side walk-in clinic.
Kristi Montgomery says she took Rusty, her 48-year-old father, to the clinic because she thought he was suffering from a heart attack.
“He said I’ve got a really bad chest pain that won’t go away, it’s been going on for quite awhile,” Montgomery said.
“He said I’ve got really bad pains going up and down my arm, particularly in my left one and I feel dizzy sometimes.”
Montgomery was going to call an ambulance to take her father to the hospital but he wanted to go to a clinic.
“He said, ‘no it’s just heartburn, it’s fine, it’s nothing,” she said. “He said, ‘I’m not going to the hospital, take me to the clinic,’ so I said ‘okay, fine,’ and then I thought to myself, certainly the clinic is going to call an ambulance anyway.”
Montgomery took her father to All Well Clinic in south Edmonton, as his health began deteroriating.
“It was just progressively getting worse, he was pale,” Montgomery said. “He was very white and he was starting to tremble.”
For some reason, Rusty’s Alberta health care card came up as invalid.
The receptionist at the clinic said the family would have to pay a fee or they couldn’t see a doctor.
“I said to her I think he’s in some pretty acute, serious stress right now. He needs to see a doctor right away,” Montgomery said. “She said this is a private clinic, she shrugged her arms, it is a $40 fee to see the doctor.”
A frustrated Montgomery rushed her dad to the Grey Nuns Hospital emergency room where she says they were told by doctors that her father was suffering from a heart attack.
“The heart attack itself was getting worse. They rushed him to the University of Alberta where they did an angioplasty, an emergency angioplasty. The artery itself is 90 per cent blocked. He’s lucky to be alive,” Montgomery said.
“The damage of the heart muscles are irreversible.”
'I would never have refused care'
CTV News has confirmed from the All Well Clinic that there were two doctors on duty the day Montgomery took her father in.
One of those doctors tells CTV he was surprised to hear what happened, adding that it was “unacceptable.”
The doctor says the receptionist who handled the situation was new and has a “lack of experience.”
The doctor adds “I would never have refused care,” saying he was unaware of the situation that was unfolding that day.
Montgomery and her fiancé Cal Connelly, who is an emergency medical technician, are launching a formal complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.
'Life should come before anything else'
“It’s extremely unethical,” Connelly said.
“He was pale, cool, sweating, clutching his chest, obviously in distress.”
The couple is questioning the training of the clinic’s staff, saying it appeared they cared more about money than a patient's well-being.
“Nothing was done,” Connelley said. “It was all about money at the end of the day. Life should come before anything else, doesn’t matter who you are. As a health care professional you have a duty to act.”
Montgomery says she is still shaken up over the incident and says her father is lucky to be alive.
“I’m definitely frustrated and don’t want this to happen to anybody else’s father,” Montgomery said.
“Health care is a basic human right in Canada. It is one of our basic human rights and my father was denied a basic human right in this country. And I don’t believe that that should ever happen to anybody.”
Rusty is currently recovering in hospital.
Doctors say he will have significant permanent damage to his heart due to the heart attack.
With files from Carmen Leibel