Why Saskatchewan’s Mental Health System is Failing

For the most part I try to keep my blog posts related to crafts, recipes, projects, etc.  But every once in a while an issue comes along that I feel warrants its own blog post.  So here I go.  I am going to try to keep anonymity in this blog post because I don’t feel it’s fair to post names on here so please bear with me as I refer to them as “the patient”

There is an individual that I know that happens to suffer from bipolar disorder.  They have been being “treated” for nearly 10 years and there has been very little progress.  The cycles are still very pronounced and no cocktail of medication or therapies (such as ECT and magnetic therapy) have shown any positive results.  The patients’ psychiatrist sees the patient maybe every 3 months which I believe is completely unacceptable.  In my opinion (and I am not a doctor by any means) if a patient is still having manic and depressive episodes on a monthly basis perhaps the psychiatrist should be seeing them weekly or if that is not possible bi-weekly as there is a shortage of psychiatrists in Saskatchewan.

The patient was having a particularly bad manic episode this past week after not having slept for a week (this is something pretty common during manic episodes).  The part that is not common is that this manic episode was accompanied by hallucinations among other things.  This resulted in a family member of the patient taking the patient to emergency at the Royal University Hospital.  After being kept in a small room across from admitting for 6 and a half hours with several psychiatrists coming in to assess the patient, the patient was released saying there were no more beds, but that if there was no improvement over the next two days to come back.  The patient was given one of the psychiatrists’ cards and told to go to admitting if they needed to come back and that they would get the patient directly into admitting.

The patient was still not improving the next day so a second family member (because the first was so frustrated after the experience at the hospital) took the patient to the medical clinic of the patients’ family doctor (who was out of town until the end of the month) to see the walk-in doctor because they were told she was vey good with psychiatric conditions.  After waiting in the waiting room for over an hour the doctor was finally able to see the patient.  The patients’ family member told the doctor the situation and within minutes the doctor concluded that the patient definitely needed help and was on the phone with the psychiatric unit at Royal University Hospital.  Unfortunately the family member could see the doctors brow begin to furrow and when they got off the phone had to deliver the bad news that they were sticking to their guns at the hospital and would not admit the patient until the following day.  So the patient and the family member left once again and did their best to make it through the rest of the day.

The next morning the patient and their second family member packed a bag for admission and headed off to the hospital accompanied by another family member that had come into the city to help out.  The family was feeling optimistic that this day would go better.  Once arriving at the hospital it became quite apparent this was not going to be the case.  The family went to admission and was told they do not directly admit to psychiatry so they were told to go to psychiatry registration.  Once at psychiatry registration they were told to go to emergency but that they should request to start the admission process directly into psychiatry and that one of the psychiatrists would be down to see them shortly.  Once at emergency, they were told to go to the back of the line for registration and so they waited their turn for the registration process.  Once registered, they were told that psychiatry knew of their situation but they were still sent to the emergency waiting room which was over capacity leaving nowhere to sit.  So time went on and eventually they were able to sit.  After nearly two hours a psychiatrist came along to say that they were going to be admitting the patient but that there were no beds.  They offered that the family could go sit in the main area of the hospital and the psychiatrist took the cell phone number of one of the family members so she could get a hold of the family once they knew more about the bed situation.  So a couple more hours went by and the family was able to talk to the psychiatrist so they could get a picture of what the situation was.  The family was then told there were still no beds available but that they were trying their best.  The family asked if they could wait at home because they live close to the hospital and the patient was very tired and just wanted to rest but they were told that if they left the hospital they would lose their place in the queue.  So the family said it would be no problem to stay.  The family continued to wait and finally after over seven hours they were told there was a bed available.

The patient was then admitted and got settled and was able to finally rest.  The family seemed quite optimistic about the care the patient would receive in there because the staff they encountered while getting the patient admitted seemed to be very caring and were showing a great deal of concern and compassion.

This post is not being written to slam the nurses and doctors and administration of the health care system because they are just doing their job and working with the resources they have but it is more being written to show why I think so many people fall through the cracks.  Not everyone who needs help has a support system that is willing/able to accompany them and jump through the many hoops it takes to get them the care they need.  Lots of people just become discouraged and give up because they are tired of waiting and cannot see the positive result that could come at the end and they lose hope.  So the best thing you can do if faced with a similar situation would be to keep fighting and keep persevering.

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