‘Easternhell’ website swamped with hits overnight

Bonnie Belec
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People venting about negative health-care experiences

After experiencing the undignified death of a loved one, a Newfoundlander has created a venue for people to vent their frustrations over what they perceive to be inadequacies in the province’s health-care system.

The website created for health consumers to vent about problems experienced while using Eastern Health facilities and services attracted a lot of attention since it went live less than a week ago. — Screen grab

“Over the past number of years

I have spent an unusual amount of time in emergency rooms and at different Eastern Health facilities tending to sick and dying loved ones,” said the creator of www.easternhell.com, who asked not to be identified.

“Nothing could have prepared me for the things that I witnessed. As I became more aware of the state of health care, I realized these experiences weren’t just happening to me and my loved ones —  it seemed everyone I met in the hallways and rooms of Eastern Health facilities, wherever I went, had a horror story to tell.

‘Just had enough’

“One day I just had enough and I began to build the site as a response,” said the webmaster of the site.

“There was a moment someone close to me died very horribly, not in a dignified way, and they weren’t treated well, and I vowed I would do something about it. I’m as serious as a person can be. There is no one more serious, no one more committed to this than me.”

The website began as the work of one person, but has evolved over the past year to represent a team that includes legal advisers, community consultants, patient advocates, family members and the public.

The webmaster said while the domain name was purchased more than a year ago, the website has  been live for less than a week and has received up to 32,000 hits in a single day.

 The originator said the time was right given the recent string of stories in the media outlining people’s concerns about health care — everything from inadequate patient care to poor policies.

“Inadequate mental health services. Women left to miscarry in ER waiting rooms. Prisoners denied their prescribed medications. Seniors in long-term care served tins of spaghettios. Botched lab results. Confidentiality breaches. Missed benchmarks. Life-threatening wait times. Cutbacks. And on and on,” says a statement sent to The Telegram newsroom from Easternhell.com.

The home page shows a dimly lit corridor and a message from the creator. It links to stories from people who have written about their experiences.

The site’s creator said the team behind the project recently purchased HellCareNL.com because it wants to include stories from people represented by the other three health authorities in the province — Western, Central and Labrador-Grenfell Health.

The creator said there is no political agenda. Instead, it is meant to provide a safe place for people to talk about their experiences, spark discussion and hopefully instill  changes in the health-care system.

Eastern Health said it is aware of the site.

“We take all feedback seriously. However, due to the Personal Health Information Act and, as the custodians of their information, Eastern Health is unable to publicly discuss any specifics regarding any individual’s case,” said an emailed statement sent Tuesday afternoon in response to The Telegram’s questions.

“In some cases, we are learning about individuals’ health-care experiences for the first time, and unfortunately, have no way of following up directly with these individuals in efforts to try and rectify their situations,” the statement said.

“We understand that some patients, clients or visitors may have had difficult experiences regarding their or their loved one’s care. Since our top priority is to provide quality and safe care to all of those we serve, we welcome any feedback, positive or negative, regarding care provided. It is unfortunate that individuals choose to tell their stories on a public website whereby we are not in a position to comment.”

Eastern Health encourages the public to contact the client relations office at 777-6500 or toll-free at 1-877-444-1399, if they have questions or concerns.

Easternhell.com’s creator acknowledges there are good people and procedures in the system, but contends it needs an overhaul.

“It should be acknowledged that much great, life-saving work is done every day by the professionals. There are many patients who receive wonderful care — a comprehensive, patient-centred approach by a team of professionals,” the site’s creator said, adding that more patient engagement, input and feedback is needed.

“It is high time for an independent patient advocacy body to form to begin working on behalf of patients, in co-operation with the government and the health-care authorities, and start dealing with patient issues head on,” said the creator.

Geographic location: Eastern Health

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • BAYMAN
    February 07, 2014 - 16:27

    Nothing to do with socialised medicine. The MEDICINE is usually good, the Administration is absolutely the problem. Bring back the old fashioned Matron who could see every day what was happening on the wards. Get the right people in posts as seniority and a BN, does not always mean common sense and dedication.

  • phil
    January 29, 2014 - 23:45

    this is what you can expect from socialized medicine. it's only going to be more of the same. but of course, no one ever notices that somehow.

  • phil
    January 29, 2014 - 23:41

    this is what you can expect from socialized medicine. it's only going to be more of the same. but of course, no one ever notices that somehow.

  • Geri
    January 29, 2014 - 12:44

    I am so happy to see that this is happening and my gratitude goes out to the person who is responsible for starting it. We are all aware that if we want something to change it has to be demanded by the masses....we have our good government to blame for the state of our Health Care system, they are the ones responsible for the purse strings...our money. I bet if there was a mass vote to oust the goverment because of their lack of concern for peoples lives and well being, we would soon see scrambling to make changes. There is no other issue more important, it affects every human being sooner or later. What good is anything else when we are dead, or struggling every day with some form of pain and hardship due to a very poorly funded health care system. There is NO other department in government that is more important than Health Care. Lets make our voices heard as a province...we should not continue to settle for the inadequate care we are receiving....we deserve better!! For years we have been reading and listening to horror stories about our Health Care...has anything significant been done to improve the situation?? NO....every now and then when the heat is turned up they will do something minor to try and appease the public....but alas, as we can all see, and hear, for ourselves...very little has changed.

  • Thomas Murphy
    January 29, 2014 - 12:13

    backlash is nil to someone who voices complaints. As a result, in the case of this site if your name is not on it it's not worth the paper it was written on.

  • Dave GINN
    January 29, 2014 - 11:01

    Hey "Dave" and "GINN", why don't YOU give your full names? In this province? With its vindictive leaders and blacklist policies? You are kidding, right? People are allowed to complain,organize and try to affect change without fear of getting fired. I am in a job whose company does work for the government. I would be a fool to give my name just on this post, yet alone as a webmaster for something like this. Even you two won't give your names.

  • Happily Retired
    January 29, 2014 - 10:47

    The bitter, political partisanship which follows these types of articles is despicable. "Susan and Vicki" are not the the ones responsible for an imperfect health system in a province with a small, aging population in a huge geography . I was diagnosed with cancer during the Liberal administration when you couldn't get a referral to a specialist. Since then the service has improved by leaps and bounds. By the way, it wasn't the fault of the Liberals then either. and the next party won't have enough either. Sadly, there's just not enough money to go around to fix everything. However, what sickens me is when politicians use sick people to score political points, and quite frankly, I'm disappointed with the recent antics of Eddie Joyce and Dwight ball on the PET Scan issue.

    • steadywaters
      January 29, 2014 - 12:53

      Happy , I am not retired as of yet but within the next five years, first 25yrs in system were good, then the philosophy of bigger is better took over and the bottom feel out of it. There is more than adaquate finances in place for eastern health, it is just a cause of mismanagement of such money. Almost 40 cents out of every tax dollar goes to health, try in your personal life of putting that much into anyone thing such as housing, car payments, debt servicing etc. Mis management of funding is biggest problem.

    • Happily Retired
      January 29, 2014 - 18:18

      Steady, Sorry, but I have to disagree. Mismanagement was alive and well in the early days too, but Ottawa was pumping so much money into the province, we didn't notice. Then the money dried up. However, that's not my point. We could spend every cent of our budget on health care, if we wanted to respond to every demand. Why not 20 PET Scan machines, why not quadruple the number of doctors and nurses. No matter what you do, there will be horror stories, especially when dishonest politicians, the media, or stupid individuals want to pick out flaws in the system for their own selfish purposes. No matter who is in power, health care should be free from the partisan politics which occur. It's just too important. We are only 500,000 people in a huge geography. Scoring political points on the back of health care is disingenuous at best, and downright dishonest at worst

  • Gekko
    January 29, 2014 - 10:28

    Not to say that there cant be improvements at Eastern Health, but before people start foaming at the mouth they should go online and take a look at a typical American medical bill. Mistakes get made but overall Eastern Health does a relatively good job with what they have. Major changes require substantially higher taxes and very few of us want to pay that, not to mention that the ones who whine the loudest are usually the ones who pay the least tax to begin with.

    • ya right
      January 29, 2014 - 11:23

      @Gekko: the working & middle classes are the ones that pay the most taxes, we are the majority of people. when the system improves for us it also improves for everyone else too.

  • Graham Bursey
    January 29, 2014 - 09:36

    I can Hardly wait to hear Susan and Vicki dance their way around this one. No wonder Dundferdfale walked away from this mess.

  • Doug
    January 29, 2014 - 09:02

    '...due to the Personal Health Information Act and, as the custodians of their information, Eastern Health is unable to publicly discuss any specifics regarding any individual’s case... It's almost comical how Eastern Health and the government in general always fall back on this drivel when they want to dodge an issue. They'd be glad to discuss it but various acts and rules conveniently prevent them from doing so. The acts and rules do not prevent Eastern Health employees from accessing information whenever they feel like it however.

  • Judith Carpenter
    January 29, 2014 - 08:31

    I can honestly say that my family has not experienced anything but excellent services with Eastern Health. My brother in the past two years has been treated for prostate cancer and thyroid cancer. He has had surgery for the thyroid, radiation for the prostate and needles in his eye for macular degeneration. All of these things have been treated and dealt with in a timely manner and with excellent care from all the staff at Eastern Health. Previously, to that he has had 3 lots of major surgery on his back and a heart attack which required stents. These procedures as well were carried out in a timely fashion and he was treated with respect and courtesy. Out of all of this he did have an infection following one lot of surgery on his back but in this day and age that is not unusual. He has done well is presently spending 3 months in Florida. As a former nurse, I think the care he has received has certainly been top notch

  • Mike
    January 29, 2014 - 08:13

    Take a real stand - put your name out there. As for patients and families, Eastern Health, nor anyone else can do little to nothing without being able to further research the stories. Go direct to them.

  • Not me
    January 29, 2014 - 08:09

    While I can appreciate everyone's experience I have to say that I have had a very different one. Over the past 3 years I have had a serious health issue. From start to finish I have had nothing less than excellent care. Within a couple of days of my initial appointment tests were ordered and completed. Once a dx was determined I had required surgery within 3 days. The care I received and continue to receive has been exceptional. The few times I had to go to emergency during this time was a good experience as well considering where I was of course. Of course I had to wait however I was treated fairly, given clear directions to follow and never once felt that the person taking care of me was less than professional. It is important to hear of the challenges happening in our health care system but we must balance that with stories of positive experiences as well. I firmly trust that there are more positive ones than negative, we just like to complain

  • GINN
    January 29, 2014 - 08:02

    just another nasty anonymous source, aided and abetted by other anonymous anti-anythings. My wife & I have a lifetime of experience at both Eastern & Central Health facilities, 99% were positive and the remaining 1% was maybe due to my own impatience. Both of us are cancer survivors, thanks to our medical system.

  • Dave
    January 29, 2014 - 07:25

    Here's a thought - put your name on it. I don't listen to opinions from someone who does not have the guts to say who they are.