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GNWT responds to widower's questions
Sylvia Arnold referred to Stanton hospital when scanner not working

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Monday, November 21, 2016

The Department of Health and Social Services has responded to some questions raised by the death of a Hay River woman.

In a story last week in News/North, Harvey Werner raised a number of concerns about the passing of his common-law partner Sylvia Arnold in September.

For one thing, Werner questioned why Arnold was sent to Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife earlier in the year with acute pancreatitis when a CT scanner was to be out of commission.

"The CT scanner was replaced at Stanton Territorial Health Authority (STHA) between February 15 and March 14, 2016," said Damien Healy, spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Services, in a written response to media enquiries.

"All regions and health authorities were advised in advance of the replacement of the equipment. Patients were triaged according to the presenting needs and available resources with the applicable patients being transferred to Edmonton."

Healy was also asked about the process for determining if equipment is operational when a patient is going to be sent to Yellowknife.

"The referring practitioner, in collaboration with the receiving practitioner, determines if services are available for the patient based on the clinical situation," he explained.

"Alternate arrangements are made, with the involvement of Med Response and Medical Travel, if the patient is required to be transferred elsewhere."

Healy said Stanton Territorial Health Authority's diagnostic services notify physicians of equipment downtime or replacement.

As for Werner's concern that Arnold had been sent to the wrong hospitals for treatment, Healy said, "Decisions to transfer patients from one level of care to the next level of care is the decision of the responsible practitioner. Where to send the patient is determined by the specific patient need and availability of resources."

Healy also said the department can't release copies of correspondence dealing with private patient issues.

After first becoming ill with acute pancreatitis, Arnold spent seven

months after Feb. 5 in and out of hospital in Hay River, Yellowknife and Edmonton - and five flights by medevac or commercial airline - leading up to her death in Edmonton at the age of 69.

As a result of his partner's passing, Werner is calling for a public inquiry into the whole health-care system in the NWT.

"Sylvia died because the system is flawed and broken and doesn't work," he told News/North earlier this month, adding the system didn't give her a chance to survive.

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