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.