Delaying knee replacement surgery or postponing a non-urgent appointment for a few weeks due to an outbreak of COVID-19 – just as unpleasant as that is – is one thing in itself. But postponing cancer treatments, is it really wise?
Mélanie LePage just can’t get over it, as this is exactly the situation her mother, Gloria is going through. And these are not the words that fail him to express his dissatisfaction. Incomprehensible … Discriminatory … Lack of judgment … This is only a small sample, because the list goes on even longer.
The 75-year-old lady from Balmoral suffers from skin cancer. On Thursday, she was due to have melanoma removed from her cheek.
“Mom was already quite nervous a few days before the scheduled date for her surgery in Bathurst. Finally, the day before it, he was called to cancel it because of the cases of COVID-19 in region 5 (Restigouche) and the fact that this area is now in the orange phase, ”says his daughter. who still can hardly believe his ears.
Ms. LePage was diagnosed with cancer last spring. She underwent a first operation in June, not without being canceled – this one too – in April due to COVID-19. During a recent visit, her oncologist deemed it more prudent to perform a second surgery to remove other suspicious tissue.
“It is a very aggressive type of cancer, we shouldn’t wait because it spreads quickly,” explains Mélanie.
Following the cancellation of the intervention for her mother on Thursday, she immediately contacted Vitalité Health Network to file a complaint and obtain an explanation. He was then reportedly told that the origin of the cancellation came from the surgeon and not from Bathurst Institution.
“But we called the surgeon in person, and he categorically denies that claim. He says he has been forced to cancel all of his scheduled appointments and procedures with patients in the Orange Zones whose lives are not in immediate danger, “LePage rages.
Realizing the gravity of the situation for his patient, the surgeon in question suddenly took steps to put her back on the schedule so that she could undergo her operation. This will only take place in two weeks, on October 29.
“We are very happy to see that it will happen, but we would have liked it to be much earlier. Because with cancer like this, everyday matters, and it was yesterday that she had to have an operation. Because of this deplorable situation, we are extending the period and putting my mother’s life at greater risk, and that is the fault of the network and its policies, “continues Mélanie.
However, this situation remains unacceptable in his eyes. For her, her mother is a collateral victim of the policies related to COVID-19 between regions of different alert phases, but perhaps also of a certain inappropriate zeal on the part of the administration of Vitalité and the Chaleur Hospital.
“We fought, we made complaints and got some form of redress, but how many other people don’t have the strength to do this and give up? It is outright discrimination. I don’t mind being vigilant in times of COVID-19, but everyone still has the right to quality care. Treatment should not be refused based on where the patient comes from, whether they are yellow, orange or red. There is more than COVID-19 after all, other illnesses to be treated, “says Mélanie LePage, who hopes her mother’s story will move things … in the right direction.
Question of protocols
As for the Vitalité Health Network, it emphasizes that it does not comment on specific patient files. However, in a note sent to the newspaper, it is stated that the quality of care offered to all New Brunswickers, regardless of where they live, is at the heart of all its decisions.
As a reminder, different infection prevention and control protocols are in place to oversee the delivery of care and services offered to patients in a region in the orange phase who present to a point of service located in a yellow phase region. These are then considered as potentially carriers of the virus.
“These protocols are necessary to ensure the safety of patients and staff while limiting the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible,” we read.