Julia Malott says she's angry it took 19 hours — including waiting in emergency rooms in two hospitals in Kitchener, Ont. — to get care for her teenage daughter Angelina, who was suffering with appendicitis.
"I think that any parent would understand that feeling of wanting to make something better for your child and not being able to," Malott told CBC News.
"This felt so backwards because the resources were right there, but we couldn't get to them. We couldn't do what needed to be done."
Around 10 p.m. ET on Sunday, Angelina couldn't shake the stomach pain that began earlier in the day.
The mother and daughter went to the emergency department at St. Mary's General, but it took 12 hours for them to receive a diagnosis confirming appendicitis, Angelina's mother said.
They were told there weren't surgery beds available at St. Mary's, so doctors sent Angelina to Grand River Hospital, where they waited over four hours before the teen underwent an emergency appendectomy — 19 hours after they first stepped into a hospital.
"It's crazy to me that a system that's meant to care for Ontarians can't even provide a mattress, can't even provide a room with dimmed lights so that people who are sick, people who are ill, trying to get better can just rest," Malott said.
Long hospital wait times have recently been reported in the region. Last month, a man waited 11 hours to be seen at Cambridge Memorial Hospital.
Health minister says 'this is not a new problem'
In the aftermath of the incident, Malott took to the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, and posted "Ontario healthcare is broken and we've long known it."
In the post, which quickly went viral — with more than 900,000 views and counting — she described her daughter's story.
During a news conference at St. Mary's General Hospital on Tuesday regarding an unrelated announcement, Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones was asked about the case.
Ontario health minister Sylvia Jones speaking at a press conference at St. Mary's General Hospital on Tuesday where she answered questions regarding Angelina Malott's case. (James Chaarani/CBC)
Jones responded that the province has "expanded the number of residency seats across every single Ontario medical school ... A minimum of 20, and in the largest medical schools, 50, additional residencies."
"I must say that this is not a new problem that we've had in the province of Ontario and we had a previous government that actually cut residency spots in 2019. If we had those residency spots today, we would have an additional two to three hundred physicians operating in the province of Ontario."
Malott wasn't completely satisfied with Jones's response and said it "was very much pointing toward previous administrations for the fault of where our system lies, and I don't think for most Ontarians there's a lot of interest in hearing whose fault this is."
Jones expressed a willingness to speak to Malott about the incident — something that was welcomed by the concerned mother, saying she's "looking forward to [their] future conversation."
"For us, we want to see positive change," Malott said. "We want to see the system improve. This isn't about politics for us. This is just about how we built a better Ontario."
CBC News reached out to St. Mary's General Hospital, but didn't get a response by the time of publication.
A spokesperson for Grand River Hospital said they were unable to comment, citing "patient privacy regulations."