The husband of a seriously injured woman is angry that he was transferred from Smithers to Kitimat to make room for COVID patients.
On September 11, Don Goalder and Cathy Whalen were driving on Old Babine Lake Road, near Smithers, when another driver crossed the center line and struck them, knocking them down a five-meter high embankment.
“I don’t know how many times we rolled over, but when we stopped we were facing the direction we had taken, with the vehicle on the side,” Goalder explained.
“I managed to get out of my seatbelt and smash a window to get out, but Cathy was hanging almost upside down by her seatbelt. If she wasn’t wearing it, I doubt she would have survived.
With swift help from a firefighter on leave and others who pulled over, Cathy was pulled from the car and both were taken to the Bulkley Valley District Hospital.
“As far as I know, the driver who hit us was not injured,” Goalder said.
Goalder suffered minor injuries and was released. Whalen’s injuries, however, included cracked vertebrae and a broken pelvis. Doctors expected a recovery time of two weeks or more in the hospital.
The couple assumed the time would be spent in Smithers. They were wrong.
After several days, the couple learned that it was going to be necessary to move Whalen to Kitimat hospital, not because of his injuries, but because of the influx of people admitted to hospital with COVID-19. . The hospital needed his bed.
This transfer required Whalen, still in severe pain, to be taken to the airport by ambulance where she was placed on a plane, flown to Terrace (a 20 minute flight) and placed in another ambulance. for the 35-minute trip to Kitimat. .
“At first it pissed me off,” Goalder exclaimed. “This means that my critically injured wife is being sent to Kitimat, where she has no family or support.”
“I don’t know where the other patients are being shipped, but due to the recent influx of COVID cases, this is probably the only realistic choice Northern Health had. “
“We were told that patients without pelvic injuries, including the maternity ward, were transferred elsewhere by ambulance. “
“The hospital has been inundated with COVID cases, almost all of them are unvaccinated people. The result is that more patients are being taken out of this hospital, whether it’s to make room or for infection control, I don’t know. “
“The anti-vaccines have certainly left their mark on our community and on my family,” Goalder said.
Whalen remains at Kitimat General Hospital.