Saskatoon mom says province's failure to avoid COVID-19 surge means twins aren't getting care
A Saskatoon mom is frustrated her baby twins aren't getting the care they need because of the provincial health care system's current COVID-19 gridlock — which she believes was preventable.
“We can see around the country and around the world where there are certain mandates in place or had we treated this a little differently, we wouldn't be at this point,” Melissa Bachmeier said.
In September, Saskatchewan started dialling back health care services to free up resources to treat a soaring number of COVID-19 patients.
“We wouldn't be to the point where everything needs to shut down again, and our hospitals are completely overwhelmed.”
Two of her kids, twins Joe and Jennifer, have Down syndrome and were born prematurely.
The current COVID-19 overload inside Saskatchewan’s healthcare system means their appointments with therapists have been cancelled.
“They've been redeployed because our medical system needs the support,” she said.
“I felt so horrible for the (centre's) coordinator, like she sounded so defeated that this is something that they have to do," Bachmeier said.
"Obviously, it's not something they want to do, they want to be here and provide the services and the situation in our province is making it so that they can't and there's nothing else we can do.”
In a statement, the Saskatchewan Health Authority acknowledged that skilled and trained staff, including some at the Alvin Buckwold Center, would be redeployed to attempt to meet the demand of critical areas of the system.
“The decision to slow down services has not been taken lightly, and is difficult for everyone, including our health care providers,” the statement said.
“The time frame for the service slowdowns is dependent on how quickly we can decrease COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and ICU admissions. This is why we are encouraging all Saskatchewan residents to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible to do so.”
When asked for a response, the Ministry of Health deferred to the SHA statement.
Bachmeier says her twins require occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists, and without those services, they may not develop properly.
Her daughter Jennifer needed open heart surgery at just five months old to fix two congenital heart defects and isn’t able to sit up or hold her head up on her own at eight months old.
“She's gone through more things in eight months of life than a lot of people go through medically ever,” said Bachmaier. “She's spent over 100 days in hospital, she had a massive open heart surgery where they repaired two defects.”
“We couldn't put her on her chest so that also delayed her development. And she's done all of this, six weeks premature, 82 days in NICU, open-heart surgery. She's still managing to figure some of these things out on her own, but it's really hard to think how far she could be if she had access to these services.”
Bachmeier says she understands the impact the pandemic is having on the provincial government’s ability to provide services, but can only imagine the frustration of parents with more medically fragile children.
“(The provincial government is) so overwhelmed with those issues that it's hard to even think that this is a blip on their radar right now,” she said.
“But for some of us, this is kind of the whole thing, right? This isn't a blip on our radar. This is our lives right now.”