Second person at Kamloops's Royal Inland Hospital had leg amputated while waiting for surgery | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Second person at Kamloops's Royal Inland Hospital had leg amputated while waiting for surgery

Barry Powers is recovering from an above-the-knee amputation at Royal Inland Hospital
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Glenda Powers

A senior couple from 100 Mile House are sharing their tragic story in hopes of drawing more awareness to the staffing shortage at Royal Inland Hospital.

Glenda Powers’ husband Barry is currently in the hospital recovering from a leg amputation.

Powers said what was supposed to be a below-the-knee amputation turned into an above-the-knee amputation, after her husband’s surgeries were repeatedly cancelled for two weeks while infection climbed further up his leg.

“He could have had a below-the-knee amputation and get around fairly easily with a prosthetic,” Powers said. “Not having a knee makes a huge difference when it comes to mobility and learning how to walk again.”

Powers said her husband suffered from vascular problems but was otherwise a healthy, busy man. He had a bypass done on his leg at the beginning of the year, then stints put in below the bypass in April, but the leg wasn’t healing properly.

In October, Barry fell.

READ MORE: Kamloops councillors want answers from Interior Health

“He was in incredible pain,” Powers said. “He spent the night in emergency in 100 Mile and I brought him to Kamloops the next morning. The doctor found a blockage in the leg.”

Powers said her husband waited for ten days for surgery to fix the blocked vein, but surgery didn’t work and an infection set into the leg.

“The leg wasn’t improving so it was decided Barry had to lose his leg below the knee,” Powers said. “Every day for almost two weeks we were told surgery would happen and then it was cancelled. I could see black spots on his feet and then watched helplessly as the infection made its way higher and higher up his leg.”

The couple were staying in the same room as Jackie Paul, a woman who was going through the same thing, and also ended up with an above-the-knee amputation.

“Jackie’s infection was a bit more advanced,” Powers said. “I watched her toes and leg die and knew what was coming for Barry. It was terrifying and heartbreaking.”

Powers said the lack of doctors available to perform the surgery and lack of nurses to help was the biggest factor in the repeated cancellations.

“Barry had his first amputation and when I got back up to his room we were told we had three nurses for 35 patients,” she said. “Because of waiting for two weeks, the infection went up the leg and they ended up having to take more off, including the knee.” 

READ MORE: Nurse reports understaffing incident and continued burnout at Kamloops hospital

Powers said she does not know when her husband will be cleared to leave the hospital and that he is depressed and physically weak. She said they will have to install a chair lift in their home and she will likely have to quit her job as an educational assistant in the school system to care for her husband.

“We can confirm that urgent surgeries - surgeries that involve life, limb and threatened organ (LLTO) have gone ahead at Royal Inland Hospital,” Interior Health said in an email to iNFOnews. “Staffing pressures and previous outbreaks at RIH have not impacted our ability to conduct these LLTO surgeries. Our surgical team closely monitors patients and adjusts the care plan as patient conditions change.”

Interior Health said it could not comment on individual circumstances due to privacy concerns. Patients and families are encouraged to contact the Patient Care Quality Office which will investigate and respond to them directly.

Powers said more doctors and nurses are needed at the hospital.

“The nurses are being overworked,” she said. “The surgeons are not only expected to run a practice, they are operating until all hours of the night. I don’t want this kind of thing to happen to anyone, changes and improvements are urgently needed.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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