Lela Evans, MHA Torngat Mountains
NDP Caucus Office
5th Floor, East Block, Confederation Building
100 Prince Philip Drive
St. John’s, NL, A1B 3R4
19th June, 2023
The Hon. Minister Dempster
Department of Labrador Affairs
438-440 Hamilton River Road
P.O. Box 3014 Station B
Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL, A0P 1E0
I am writing regarding the chronic failure to deliver adequate patient care to northern Labrador patients. Patients have a right to adequate health care that includes travel to and from their medical appointments. The skedevac service to northern Labrador communities is inadequate, creating multiple problems for patients. These patient travel issues are chronic, on-going, and they impact our quality of life. I get calls practically every week from patients and their families about being bumped off flights or their flights are cancelled altogether, stranding them. This stress compounds their medical issues impacting their overall wellness. I am attaching supporting documentation from AngajukKak Barry Andersen.
I have received multiple calls again this past week about patients not being able to fly. The most troubling was a stroke patient who had their post-stroke and eye appointment on Tuesday, June 13. They finished the appointment and then passed in their blue slip for travel home with their escort. There were multiple skedevac flights over multiple days but the stroke patient and her escort are still waiting to fly home, 6 days later. How is this possible? This delay is putting undue stress on the patient and her escort is deeply concerned about what impact these delays are having on her overall health. Also, the patient escort is burdened with loss of income due the unnecessary delay. Although the escort says she is willing to incur the loss, they should not have this unnecessary financial burden. This failure of the system to deliver adequate and timely patient is far-reaching.
This scenario plays out over and over again. I get calls from patients and I get calls from medical escorts stating the problems and impacts it is having on our peoples’ health. Chronic patient travel issues are impacting patients’ physical, mental, and emotional health and it must be addressed.
Unfortunately, this is not the worst example of failure to patient travel that have been shared with me. There have been multiple cancer patients not able to make their medical appointments due to being bumped of flights. Patient health is being harmed and it is impacting the quality of life for their families as well.
I look forward to additional flights being added so our patients can travel for health care and not have to be burdened with the stress of missed appointments and long harmful delays in getting home.
M.H.A., Torngat Mountains