Quadriplegic nearly missed MRI because no staff were trained to assist him

The husband of a quadriplegic man in Halifax is calling on the Nova Scotia Health Authority to improve services for patients with mobility issues, after a scheduled MRI was nearly derailed because there were no staff trained to assist him.

When Jeff MacPherson and his husband Amit Rahalkar went to the Halifax Infirmary for Rahalkar’s MRI this month, they weren’t anticipating anything unusual with the appointment, apart from the fact that it was scheduled on a weekend. 

But when they arrived, the MRI technician told MacPherson there was no one on duty to help Rahalkar onto the MRI table.

“It seemed that it wasn’t going to go forward, and I finally said, ‘You know, I will do this transfer,'” MacPherson told CBC’s Information Morning.

MacPherson said Rahalkar has received annual or semi-annual MRIs since a car crash left him quadriplegic three years ago. He said those appointments usually take place during the week, when “there is an abundance of staff” who are trained to assist patients with mobility issues.

But the MRI appointment in question had been specifically scheduled to investigate a pressing medical issue, and fell on a Saturday.

“I guess budgets may not allow for staffing appropriately on weekends to have a service of care for all people,” MacPherson said. 

Jeff MacPherson and Amit Rahalkar wedding

Amit Rahalkar, left, and Jeff MacPherson. (Brent McCombs)

‘It should be there’

In an emailed statement, health authority spokesperson Kristen Lipscombe said Rahalkar’s “experience is not one anyone receiving care from Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) should expect and we sincerely apologize for it.”

She also said that immediate steps are being taken to make sure that other patients do not have a similar experience.

As for MacPherson — who did end up lifting Rahalkar onto the MRI table — he said he’s contacted his MLA, Labi Kousoulis, to ask for an investigation into ways to provide care for every person, every day of the week.

“It shouldn’t be up to the person getting the appointment to say, ‘Oh, by the way, do you have a [trained] nurse on duty,'” MacPherson said. “If there’s a level of care on Monday in the imaging department, it should be there on Saturday.”

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