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Kitchener, Ont. teen waits 19 hours for emergency appendectomy


A mother is speaking out after her teenage daughter spent 19 agonizing hours waiting in two Kitchener, Ont. emergency departments for an appendectomy.

Julia Malott says the experience is proof the healthcare system isn’t working as it should and she’s placing the blame squarely at the feet of the provincial government.

“We need to fix the system,” Malott said Tuesday. “We need to add capacity, we need to have better processes. I am not someone who works in this industry who could purport to know the answer, but I certainly know that this doesn't work at all.”

Healthcare horror story

The ordeal began on Sunday night when Angelina Malott developed severe abdominal pain. Julia rushed her to St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener and the pair arrived around 10 p.m.

At first, things started O.K., Julia explained. Angelina was given a bed to lie down in and was seen by a doctor around 2 a.m. The doctor ordered a few tests and by 4 a.m., appendicitis had emerged as the likely diagnosis, but the family still had to wait for an ultrasound.

“Unfortunately, they don't run 24-hour ultrasounds here at St. Mary's. So we were told we had to wait until 8 a.m., which then became 9 a.m. before we could even confirm what was going on. And this is pretty scary for us, of course, because appendicitis can be severe,” Julia said.

Angelina and Julia Malott speak to CTV News in front of St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener on Jan. 30, 2024, a day after Angelina's emergency appendectomy. (Jeff Pickel/CTV Kitchener)

Shortly before 5 a.m., Angelina was moved back to the waiting room, which is when things got worse.

“We're now back sitting on the chairs and of course she's sitting up, which means she's putting pressure on this appendix area that might have a rupture and there's nothing they can do for us because they don't have beds. They don't have staff, they simply do not have the capacity,” Julia said.

By 10 a.m., they got confirmation Angelina had appendicitis and she’d have to go to nearby Grand River Hospital for surgery.

Julia drove her there and, once again, mother and daughter kept waiting.

“As a parent, it's devastating when your child is in pain, when they're squirming and crying and tears and you can't provide them a solution,” Julia said.

“It's one of the most discouraging experiences I have ever had in healthcare in Ontario.”

Eventually, Angelina went in for surgery just before 5 p.m. Monday.

“When I came out of surgery, I just burst out crying as soon as I woke up and I think it really was I was just completely exhausted,” she explained.

‘Ontarians want solutions’

CTV News asked Health Minister Sylvia Jones about the Malott family’s experience at a news conference Tuesday.

Jones said the provincial government is opening up new spaces in schools to increase the number of doctor graduates and is also recruiting internationally-trained healthcare workers.

“I can only imagine the pain, the frustration, the stress the family went through,” Jones said. “I have committed, in the months, in the days and weeks ahead, if she would like to have a conversation with me about her experience, I am happy to.”

Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones makes an announcement at St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener on Jan. 30, 2024. (Chris Thomson/CTV Kitchener

Speaking Tuesday afternoon, Julia said she hadn’t heard from the minister.

“That hasn't happened yet and I hope it does," she said. "I think that could be a wonderful conversation because certainly I want solutions and Ontarians want solutions.”

As for Angelina, she’s taking a few days off school to heal, but her future plans to pursue a career in nursing may never recover.

“I had no idea it was that bad and the lack of resources,” Angelina said. “It makes me feel really bad for them because they just have to watch people be in pain.”

St. Mary's General Hospital and Grand River Hospital both said they can't comment on specific patients' experiences due to privacy. Top Stories

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