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'She should be here': Nova Scotia family says loved one died shortly after leaving busy ER


Another Nova Scotia family is speaking out about the death of a loved one following a lengthy wait at an emergency department -- and they’ve created a website where others can share their own stories.

Katherine Snow says her mother-in-law, Charlene Snow, died suddenly at home on Dec. 30, 2022, after she waited seven hours in the ER at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

“I’m mad. I’m angry,” says Snow, who lives in Donkin, N.S.

“She should be here.”

Snow says her 67-year-old mother-in-law had jaw pain and flu-like symptoms. She was triaged, but eventually gave up after being told she likely wouldn’t see a doctor until the next morning.

Frustrated, Charlene returned home. Snow says her heart stopped less than an hour later.

“A sudden death like that is hard enough,” Snow told CTV News.

“It is so shocking, and it happened in the house, so there was family there, but when you add an extra layer on top of that, that maybe it could have been prevented, it just really compounds the grief and takes it to another level.”

Snow posted her family’s experience on social media and says she was overwhelmed by the feedback, with hundreds of stories pouring in from people who had similar stories to share.

In response, Snow and her family have launched a website dedicated to housing stories of patients and health-care workers affected by Nova Scotia’s health-care crisis.

“I want to paint a clear picture, so that by some chance, somebody high up at Nova Scotia Health might have a look and read these stories and understand it from a human level,” explains Snow.

Snow and her family say they don’t blame the nurses or doctors for what happened, but they do feel the province’s health-care system is broken.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia Health Minister Michelle Thompson says Nova Scotia Health conducted an initial review of the incident, and a formal investigation is now underway to determine what happened.

“The results of the investigation will be shared with the family when complete and the recommendations from the investigation will be acted on,” said Thompson in an emailed statement to CTV News.

The case comes after news of another Nova Scotia woman dying following a lengthy wait in an ER at a hospital, which made national headlines this week.

Allison Holthoff arrived at the Cumberland Regional Health Centre in Amherst, N.S., before noon on New Year’s Eve. Her husband said she was in extreme pain, even screaming that she was dying at times, but she waited hours to see a doctor.

By the time she was taken into a room and had a CT scan -- which showed internal bleeding -- it was too late, said her husband.

Roughly 12 hours after she arrived at the hospital, the 37-year-old mother of three was dead.

Nova Scotia Health is conducting an investigation in that case as well. Top Stories

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