Winnipeg woman on stretcher in hospital hallway for over a week

Winnipeg’s Helen Gorlick, 89, has been waiting on a stretcher in the hallway at the Grace Hospital for eight days in a row.

Her family is calling for immediate change.

“She’s not really getting the care she’s needing and she’s waiting to be sent to a geriatric rehabilitation hospital,” her son Alan Gorlick told CityNews.

“The ERs are filled with our elderly population.”

Helen has been sitting semi-upright since Oct. 16 — she can’t lie flat or bear any weight. The following day she went to Grace Hospital, where she’s been ever since because there’s no physiotherapy staff in the building.

Side by side of Helen Gorlick (submitted by: Alan Gorlick) and Grace Hospital (CityNews)

“I think she should have been seen by a physiotherapist pretty immediately in the ER, to work on getting her out of bed and get her muscles moving,” said her son Alan. “I find that’s a detriment because she’s sitting in a bed and she doesn’t know what her abilities are even. Her mental health purposes as well, too.”

Alan, who’s been visiting his mother every day, says this experience has been a wake-up call for him. He sees health-care workers first-hand doing their best to care for patients without the resources they need.

“What I’ve witnessed and seen, the care there is amazing,” he said. “It’s just, the lack… not enough. And they’re overworked. At the end of a shift, you’re constantly hearing a supervisor coming around asking them to stay for a double.”

“It happens in every hospital but for us it’s personal because this has been ongoing,” added Heather Denboer, Helen’s daughter-in-law.

Denboer says the long-term wait is beginning to cause other issues for Helen.

“Her muscles are starting to atrophy,” she said. “She doesn’t have the type of care that she requires to get up out of the bed and get up even to a washroom, so things are happening.”

Alan Gorlick (left) and Heather Denboer are calling for quicker improvements in health care. (Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

Denboer, who is a health-care worker, says more staff is desperately needed so patients get proper care.

“Being in the Grace Hospital emergency yesterday and seeing how few nurses and health-care aides and doctors there are available for the number of people that were lining the number of hallways in stretchers and in the rooms,” she recounted. “The area that I was, was all geriatric people and it was heartbreaking to hear them calling out for help or hello.”

‘Unacceptable’ says health minister

Manitoba Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara called the situation “unacceptable.”

“Manitobans should trust that when they go to an emergency room or an urgent care that they’re going to get the care that they need and they deserve in a dignified manner,” Asagwara said. “And that’s clearly, what we’ve been told, is not happening. So (we’re) very concerned about that.”

Asagwara says the new Manitoba government is committed to strengthening health care by listening to workers and patients.

“My thoughts are with this family and I appreciate that they have obviously reached out to have their voices heard,” she said. “Our government is a listening government. We want to hear from Manitobans. We want to hear from health-care workers.”

Both Alan Gorlick and Denboer hope the new government can make swift changes to ensure seniors don’t have to wait weeks for care in emergency rooms.

“Health care is crumbling and I’m hoping that the new government will look and follow through on their election promises,” said Denboer.


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