If you’re going to fall and hurt yourself, you might think a hospital lobby is a pretty lucky place to do it. After all, the building does house doctors and nurses who can tend to you right away.

That’s what 82-year-old Doreen Wallace thought. But she was wrong.

On October 8, she and her son were visiting her ailing husband at Greater Niagara General Hospital when she took a spill and broke her hip in the lobby. But instead of getting the medical attention she needed, she was told she had to call 911 and wait for an ambulance.

She ended up spending almost 30 minutes on the floor.

“It was horrible. It really was. Everybody who walked through the door stopped and stared at me,” said Wallace, who already had a broken arm from a previous fall. “I was inside the hospital. Why did they have to wait for an ambulance to come and pick me up?”

Her son added, “I was floored. We’re probably, maybe, like a 50-yard walk, literally, down to the emergency department.”

The supervisor of the Niagara Health System said the incident was the result of a communication snafu, and that the staff has now been briefed on the correct policy. He also said a review is underway.

Health Minister Deb Matthews said the situation is unacceptable. “Clearly this is very disappointing and isn’t the standard of care that people should expect.”

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