"All the right things" - Patient acknowledges compassionate care at Cobequid Emergency Department

Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 2:53pm

This candid letter from a patient of the Cobequid Community Health Centre Emergency Department acknowledges that in spite of challenges like wait times, respect and compassion are among our greatest offerings to those we serve.


"I'm writing to comment on my visit to the Cobequid Community Health Centre on Tuesday, March 3, 2015.  I was referred to your Emergency department by my primary care physician because of chest pain, shortness of breath and questions regarding recent blood work. Neither of us felt it was a life-threatening situation, however due to the nature of the complaint, and the fact that I have ankylosing spondylitis and asthma, my doctor insisted that I make the trip to the nearest hospital that day.

"I chose to go to CCHC because I had been to your hospital previously for blood work and x-rays. On those visits the staff, at all levels (clerical, lab, volunteer), have always been wonderful. Yes, sometimes the wait is long, but everyone is unfailingly pleasant.

"My experience at your ER was no different. To speak plainly, you have some of the nicest people I have ever come across in a hospital working in your Emergency.

"Unfortunately, due to my health problems, I have spent a lot of time in and out of Emergency departments these last two years. I admit, I am not a good patient. I am guilty of being a whiner. I do not always explain myself well. I will be the first to say that my expectations have been far and above what an ER is capable of or designed to provide. Coupled with my difficult health scenario, what I have to say is therefore routinely ignored or responded to rudely. I say this not in the spirit of bitterness, but matter of factly. I've come to expect this, and it has made me dread or avoid ERs. Although not life threatening, I know my problems are not easy to deal with.

"In this visit to Cobequid (my first to your Emergency) I was flabbergasted by the willingness to listen by both the nurses and the doctors. It was totally unexpected, but completely wonderful.

"Nurses are always wonderful, and mine for this visit was no different. I was not rushed. As I was hesitating to add any details to my complicated history, he told me to tell my story "however I liked.” I was not made to feel like I was exaggerating my problem and being a burden. I was treated like I mattered. I was even checked on while waiting to see the doctor - this has never happened before.

"Similarly, the doctor handling my case also took the time to listen. He could not offer any help, only assurances that everything was ok and offered medications to make me comfortable (incidentally, this is the first time that any ER doctor has offered medications to make me comfortable until I saw my regular doctors). He was staunchly amiable regardless of my less than pleasant attitude.

"I realize that the ER was not busy and had time for a non-urgent case such as mine. This is not about wait times. This has nothing to do with time or the urgency of the case. I was simply treated as a human being that was in distress, and not like an imposition. I did not have to be hit by a truck to qualify for anyone's undivided attention, or to be taken seriously.

"Would I have like a solution to my problem? Absolutely, but realistically that will not happen in an ER. I know this. But what did happen was all the right things - I was checked out, I was told I was ok, and I was offered to be made more comfortable until I saw my own doctor. I know this may not sound like a lot, but it means so much not to be shuffled along and dismissed, especially when you are feeling ill. Your staff not only listen, but treat people like human beings. Thank you for that. And thank you to everyone in you Emergency department. I am sure I will be back.

"Yes, healthcare in Nova Scotia and in Canada is in crisis, but it costs nothing and has zero affect on wait times to treat everyone with compassion and respect. Your hospital is succeeding in doing this and should be held as an example to others."


A grateful patient