Administrator says site will continue
If there’s anything the administrator of a website devoted to telling stories about Eastern Health has learned over the past several months, it’s that patients aren’t being listened to.
“Patients are not being heard,” said the creator of www.easternhell.com, who asked not to be identified.
“Most patients have very informed perspectives on their own health issues and a vast majority of people writing to Eastern Hell believe that their concerns were not taken seriously and that they were not treated in a respectful way. Not listening to patients leads to things like misdiagnosis. Not caring about patients breeds neglect,” the website creator said.
After experiencing the undignified death of a loved one, the Newfoundlander created the venue for people to vent their frustrations over what they perceive to be inadequacies in the province’s health-care system.
The website began as the work of one person, but has evolved over the past year and a half to represent a team that includes legal advisers, community consultants, patient advocates, family members and the public.
“There is a culture of neglect and insensitivity that is pervading the emergency rooms and this brings with it a host of other problems. The same can be true for branches of seniors care, in particular seniors in hospital settings,” said the administrator, who released first-quarter results from the site Thursday.
The vast majority of visitors to the site are from Canada (presumably a majority from Newfoundland and Labrador). There have also been visitors from 85 different countries, reading from the 60 posted pages over 165,000 times.
On average, EasternHell.com receives 1,350 visitors per day.
The Top 3 categories of concerns with contributors are: emergency rooms, 68 per cent (in particular the St. Clare’s and Health Sciences Centre’s ERs, and ER services in Central Health facilities); Eastern Health, 64 per cent (note: many contributors did not identify the region or facility); and insensitivity, 58 per cent.
Wait times, safety concerns, poor working conditions and understaffing are also big concerns, said the administrator.
“We knew there would be a powerful response to the website because we knew there were so many people with stories to tell, but the volume has been impressive. On our busiest day we received almost 25,000 hits in one 24-hour period.”
Unfortunately, the people who run the site said contributors are reporting very little improvements.
“The only change is that Vickie Kaminski (former CEO of Eastern Health) resigned,” they said.
“So far, we see no improvements, in fact a worsening situation in ERs — particularly with women in pre-term labour and people dealing with pregnancy-related issues.”
On the up side, the administrator said what’s been encouraging about the statistics is the recurring problems seem to be isolated to certain areas of health care — primarily emergency rooms, seniors care, people with specialized needs or people who are not able to speak up for themselves.
“The other major issue here is that patients have no recourse when things go wrong. Yes, there are complaints processes, but from what people have been telling us, little ever comes of those. There must be checks and balances put in place that are effective. There must be more advocacy for patients and recourse available to them. The situation with the ERs and with seniors care are chronic problems and they need to be addressed immediately.”
When contacted in January about the website, Eastern Health said it was aware of it and encourages the public to contact its client relations office at 777-6500 or toll-free at 1-877-444-1399 if they have questions or concerns.
As for the continuance of the website, “absolutely. We are just getting started,” the creator said when asked if it will keep going.