‘Is it real to you yet?’: Ottawa woman shares photo of wait for emergency room amid third wave

OTTAWA — A social media post highlighting a waiting area at the General Campus of the Ottawa Hospital is going viral.

Some say they find it daunting to see patients on stretchers waiting in what appears to be a garage, but it’s not the first time the hospital has done this.

Cancer patient Samantha Mitchell was taken to the General Campus on Thursday. She posted a picture and a video of her wait to get into the emergency department on Instagram.

“Views of a Stage 4 breast cancer patient waiting for the emergency room,” she wrote. “Is it real to you yet?”

Mitchell told CTV News Ottawa when she arrived, she waited in the ambulance offload area before being admitted to the emergency room.

“When I got there, they pulled into the emergency garage, which is where they are taking patients right now so that you are able to socially distance.”

She updated her Instagram post to say she was in a bed in the hospital in 20 minutes and received excellent care.

But she says this visit was far from what she is used to and she’s no stranger to the hospital. She has been battling cancer for six years now.

“Within a year of my original diagnosis, I got diagnosed as stage four breast cancer, in my lungs, in my bones, and in my brain.”

The Ottawa Hospital tells CTV News that this is a normal procedure, and that they have used this area for holding patients even before the pandemic.

“The Ottawa Hospital has an ambulance offload area set up beside the General Campus emergency department to provide a comfortable space for patients to wait to be admitted to emergency,” the Ottawa Hospital told CTV News Ottawa in a statement. “The space is climate controlled and clean. This area is not an overflow space for admitted patients, and is not linked to the hospital’s level 2 surge activities.”

Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have been increasing in recent weeks, hitting 131 COVID-19 patients on across all Ottawa hospitals on Monday. 

Mitchell’s husband Jeff wasn’t allowed to come in with her due to COVID-19 regulations, but he says he understands why they need to keep it that way.

“It was sort of eye opening for us to see what’s happening now because of COVID,” says Jeff. “Everything they’re doing is for the right reasons. They’re using this garage to social distance and to keep everybody safe. (Samantha) said it was all very well organized. We really have nothing but good things to say about The Ottawa Hospital. They’ve been so good to Samantha.”

But Mitchell is still upset for other reasons.

“I had to go into the hospital on Thursday night, late at night, alone, without any support around me because people are choosing to have parties and not social distance.”

She also says she hasn’t been able to see family or friends for over a year because of her condition and she’s worried that if the pandemic doesn’t end soon, she might not ever get that chance.

“Please stay home so that we can get back to normal eventually. I would love the opportunity to be around my family and my husband in the hospital.” 

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