Family protests lack of resources for chronic care patients

A Sidney family took their frustrations with Island Health to the streets outside Victoria General Hospital on Sunday hoping to draw attention to the plight of their 19-year-old son, who they say is facing his fourth day without food inside the ­hospital.

Arabella Young said they are hoping to get some action for him and the other chronic-care patients they say are sometimes forgotten as resources get stretched thin during the pandemic.

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Dez Young has been feeding through a tube in their stomach since last July, when the late effects of chemotherapy for a childhood cancer created issues with eating.

The tube cracked last Thursday, and since then Dez has had only an intravenous drip containing glucose for sustenance, Arabella Young said.

“I believe [front-line] people care, but the fact we can’t have enough radiologists available to place a [feeding] tube so someone can have basic nutrition, well, I don’t think anyone would be OK with not having their child fed for 12 days in Canada,” Young said. “It’s outrageous, it’s a basic human right.”

She said there have been myriad problems with the feeding tubes, including falling out, tearing and cracking.

Each time it happens, Young said Dez has to subsist on a drip until a radiologist is available to replace the tube. She said Dez has gone up to 12 days without getting the tube replaced.

“It’s been passed off as a lack of staff or stroke patients needing interventional radiology,” she said. “We do understand triage, but if someone is not eating more than glucose water for 12 days, we need to do something.”

When asked about the situation, a spokesperson for Island Health said the health authority cannot discuss the details of individual patients and the care they receive.

“We are always concerned when care received does not meet a patient’s expectations, and we take all care complaints seriously,” said a statement released Sunday.

Young, whose protest occupied the highly visible roundabout outside Victoria General Hospital on Sunday afternoon, said navigating the adult health care system is a very different experience to that of youth care and B.C. Children’s Hospital, where Dez had a number of stays.

She said chronic care is lacking for adults and her family has started to lose faith in the system.

“At what point is this an emergency, at what point do we say this person needs feeding and where does someone who needs food go on the triage list?” she said.

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