ASSINIBOIA - This week’s column ”borders on the unthinkable” - a rather disturbing and direct quote from a personal email I received just the other day. It was written by a concerned and faithful reader who lives in Moose Jaw. This reader, a well known and celebrated retired Provincial Court Judge, Robert N. Conroy, is a dear and close personal friend. He is a distinguished 87-year-old gentleman, whose career spanned more than forty years on the bench here in Saskatchewan. He was a skilled bush-pilot in the north country for many years, flying into, holding court, and bringing justice to remote communities far removed from the south country and civilization. He is a man of unquestionable integrity.
Mr. Conroy’s letter to me was written late Sunday evening, August 15, in response to the story I wrote for the Assiniboia Times and SASKTODAY.ca website on the Fife Lake senior citizen who accidentally set himself on fire. He was ultimately refused emergency treatment at Assiniboia Union Hospital because the emergency room there was closed. You can read my original story on SASKTODAY.ca by typing in https://www.sasktoday.ca/south/local-news/unlucky-day-for-fife-lake-senior-citizen-4236502 into your browser.
Judge Conroy asked me to publish his letter because, as he said, “The Assiniboia Union Hospital website says the emergency ward is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Someone in authority needs to look into this travesty and someone needs to answer for it. It borders on the unthinkable”.
Here is Judge Conroy’s letter to me, printed with his consent:
Letter to the Assiniboia TIMES
Senior Reporter Wes Bloom.
15 August, 2021
My wife Bev and I were recently in Rockglen for a couple of days helping my daughter from Calgary, who bought a beautiful, small cottage there a few months ago. My wife and I actually live in Moose Jaw. Over the past few years, Bev has had a number of anaphylactic attacks, which necessitated hurried trips to the Emergency Room in Moose Jaw where staff there literally saved her life, with only moments to spare, I might add!
On our most recent trip to Rockglen just the other day, I accompanied my wife, because she is very uncomfortable travelling alone and terrified of being far away from a reliable medical facility. When we arrived in Rockglen, I quickly stopped at the Grasslands Health Centre to ask if they possessed an emergency anaphylactic ‘kit’, which my wife needs to survive any sudden and potentially lethal anaphylactic ‘attack’. Hospital staff in Rockglen said that anyone needing such advanced medical treatment, must go to the Assiniboia Union Hospital, some forty minutes north of Rockglen.
I tell you all of this because of a terrifying experience a kind young man from Rockglen had on Friday, August thirteenth. My wife and I know this young man. He is friend to an elderly gentleman who still lives in his own home in Fife Lake, not far to the east of Rockglen. His friend had accidentally set himself on fire in a crazy and bizarre accident. This man’s skin was hanging loose from his scalp, face, ears, and chest, and he was in severe pain. After the flames were quickly extinguished by another friend, the young man quickly loaded his elderly friend into his vehicle and drove as fast as he could to the Assiniboia Hospital, arriving there at about 11 a.m.. Much to his chagrin, the Emergency Room door was locked and he couldn’t get in. He pounded loudly on the door until a woman eventually came and told him that the ER was closed and that he would have to take his friend “somewhere else” for treatment!
The frustrated young man then drove his vehicle, as fast as it would go, to St. George’s Hospital in Gravelbourg - another 45 minutes to the north-west of Assiniboia. Here, his friend was quickly examined and then immediately flown by STARS Air Ambulance to Regina, where he remained in hospital there.
This, Wes, is a truly horrible and unbelievable thing for anyone to experience. It could have been you trying to get help, or my wife, or even me, for that matter.
The Assiniboia Union Hospital website says the Emergency ward is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Someone in authority needs to look into this travesty and someone needs to answer for it. It borders on the unthinkable.
Sincerely, your friend,
Robert (Bob) N. Conroy,
Retired Saskatchewan Provincial Court Judge,
Moose Jaw, SK.