LETTER: What is an emergency?


Editor: Is 11 hours too long for a toddler to wait with a broken elbow and fractured arm?

On June 1 early evening  my two year old hurts himself on his toddler slide in my backyard. It is obvious he needs medical care, so off to the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Emergency Department.

Within 30 minutes of arrival he is registered and X-rays are complete. I am impressed with the speed everything was done until…five hours later we are still waiting. So I question the wait. The response I am given is, “Welcome to the emergency department.”

I ignore the comment and further explain my purpose for being there. The staff member I question agrees to speak to someone regarding my son’s X-rays. It is believed my toddler fractured his forearm, is what I am told.

More waiting…June 2,  the next morning, my son is seen in the fast track clinic at CKHA. The staff is kind, apologizing for the wait. He is treated in about 20 minutes and with a cast sent on his way.

Broken elbow and fractured forearm. Ouch! Poor little guy, What is considered an emergency?

I realize there are more serious ailments or injuries than those of my toddler. But a tiny innocent in pain for hours, broken waiting to get help, seems cruel to me.

I appreciate having a hospital close by. I am grateful for free health care. Times are tough and people are overworked,  even burnt out.

However, that is a long time to wait for anyone, let alone a broken toddler. Something needs to change.


Kimberley Poirier 







  1. Kimberly,
    Your comment is valid, our children’s health care, heck all of our health care is in a crisis. I am glad you were able to get the x-rays and a quick assessment, but sadly all too often, patient’s like your son are left waiting in the ED after hours. The challenge in this system is that our ED is funded with 1-2 physicians overnight, and unfortunately, their attention if focused on the individuals whose medical stability is more fragile within the next 24 hours. The provinces metric of funding relies on wait times, and quick assessments, therefore the longer you wait, the less money the hospital gets. Sadly, when there are only 1-2 providers, people wait longer, and people like your son are left in the waiting room pondering what might be wrong. Your concerns are valid, we too wonder what will become of the ED when we are so short staffed, and the individuals left to pick up the pieces are now leaving too. Recently an article was published citing an 8.2% vacancy at CKHA, but I can assure you numbers are much higher. Staff are becoming transient, filling the roles of multiple departments, floating back and forth to fill voids, ordered into work, unable to take time off, and leaving to greener pastures. This all affects you too. I wish your son’s care was prioritized as well, but in a system that affords less, and asks more, I worry that stories like this will become all too common. So what can you do? Call your local MPP, ask about what they are doing to RETAIN staff not recruit, how can we allocate more funding for providers. Your voice matters and so does your experience.


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