For one in at least 22 intensive care patients moving to Ontario from Saskatchewan to ease COVID-19 pressure, the sudden transfer was a brutal reminder of his traumatic past.
Ken Roth, 66, is a retired fire chief from La Loche, Sask., More than 500 miles northwest of Saskatoon.
The unvaccinated man received COVID-19 in early July. He was intubated on July 28 and spent weeks in a coma.
Until recently, he received treatment in the intensive care unit at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon.
The Metis man says his wife and daughter had visited him at the hospital every day.
But in a flash, that changed.
“The way they treated me in Saskatoon …” he said in an interview between coughing fits.
“They came right there and said ‘you’re going to Ottawa!’
He tried to protest, he said, but was moved so quickly that he did not even have time to make a phone call to say goodbye. He cried on the flight to Ontario.
Roth said the experience was a traumatic reminder of how he was torn away from his mother at the age of six.
He was then sent to an after-school center.
“Like when I was a kid, they did the same thing. They just hurt me so much,” he told CBC News.
Roth is not upset that he was sent to Ontario to receive care – he is unhappy with how they moved him.
Roth is one of 22 people who had been transferred to Ontario as of Friday morning to ease the burden on Saskatchewan hospitals and protect care standards.
Hospitals in the province are still under extreme pressure and a further six intensive care patients are expected to be relocated by Sunday, giving a total of 28 by the end of the week.
Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone was unaware of Roth’s concerns, but when asked Friday, he issued an apology.
“[We] would certainly apologize for any pain or suffering in that patient, “he said
There is supposed to be a process of informing families and patients – if they are conscious – who are being moved out of the province.
“It would not coincide with our current process of getting people sent out of the county,” Livingstone explained.
Roth’s family met with a social worker at St. Paul’s hospital after he was transferred.
SE: Sask. ICU patient Ken Roth was relocated to Ontario. He is very happy with the care he receives, but he is sad HOW he was moved – says he did not have time to call his family to say goodbye. A painful reminder of past traumas for the original man. @CBCTheNational pic.twitter.com/ wJrp8mynF1
There is no way to say ‘no’ to being relocated, the province said.
If officials determine that a patient is stable enough to travel and they need space, they will be transferred.
However, the health authorities in the province are not sure if it will be necessary in addition to the movements already planned until Sunday.
“We are seeing a reduction in our COVID patients, we are seeing a reduction in the use of ICU beds,” Marlo Pritchard, president of the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, said at the same press conference on Friday.
If the county continues to relocate patients, Roth says it needs to do better and pay more attention.
Sensitivity is key, he said, especially for survivors of residential schools.
“Let them at least talk to their families. You don’t just grab people,” he said.
“The people, like me, really brought trauma back to me.”
The 66-year-old has no complaints about his treatment so far in Ottawa.
“The care is 100 percent here. They really take care of me,” he said.
But it has not made it easier.
“There are no words for lonely. I am more than lonely,” he said.
That may soon change. His family is moving to Ontario. However, most are not fully vaccinated and will not be able to visit him in the hospital.
It is also a policy being adopted by SHA.
LYT | Patients are now being transferred to Ontario from Saskatchewan
Metro tomorrow9:47Patients are now being transferred to Ontario from Saskatchewan as the number of intensive care units increases at a rapid pace