SHELBURNE - Nolan Young raced to the emergency department at Roseway Hospital with his three-year-old son over the Thanksgiving weekend.
He was living any parent's worse nightmare. Keenan had a high fever and was unresponsive.
Young knew he was taking a risk - as a Shelburne town councillor, he was aware the emergency room would be shutting down over the long weekend because there were no physicians available. He and his wife raced their son there in hopes of catching someone before it closed.
By the time they arrived, Keenan's condition had worsened. He was in a full-blown, febrile seizure.
“He was foaming at the mouth,” says Young. “They were pouring bags of ice on him to try to bring his fever down.”
The full impact of the emergency department’s closure hit Young when staff called 911.
“It’s scary when you go to a hospital and they have to call 911,” says Young. “It’s horrific.”
He says the county is in a state of emergency regarding health care.
“As Canadians, we deserve better healthcare,” he says. “You don’t cut corners when it comes to lives.”
He says he will stand up to share his story Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. at the community centre auditorium in Shelburne, when the town hosts a rally to discuss the state of healthcare in Shelburne County.
He says they were lucky that they were able to catch staff before they left. Keenan’s story has a happy ending with his full recovery now giggling and playing to the relief of his parents.
The problem isn't solely due to emergency department closures, says the town's chief administrative officer, Dylan Heide. It's also the lack of healthcare services and access to local healthcare that's an issue.
“We know the province and health authority has the stats but they don’t seem to be hearing the real experiences,” he said.
Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall wants to see everyone come out to share their story and express their concerns and experiences.
She says it’s time people push back against the province.
“It’s important enough (that) people will have to step up,” she says.
While the provincial health authority and the provincial government have been invited to listen, she calls the rally a people’s meeting, a place where residents of Shelburne County can share their stories.
“These health boards are not servicing people,” says Mattatall.
She says the healthcare in the county is poor. People do not have family doctors and are forced to use the emergency department for basic medical needs. Far too often, she says, residents have to travel for medical services at least one hour away - including women giving birth or seeking pre-natal check-ups.
“We should have better access locally,” says Mattatall.
“We shouldn’t have to travel for everything.”
Wait times are a real concern as well, she said.
“Look at the woman in Lockeport who was told she needed to wait for a breast scan,” says Mattatall. “And there are people waiting for joint replacements for two years.”
She says people’s quality of life is suffering, and she wants to see it stop.
“If you are tired of what is going on, show up,” Mattatall said.
If you go: The Make Your Voice Heard on Healthcare session will be held Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. at the Shelburne Community Centre Auditorium