Letter: No help for emergency at Rangely Hospital

On the night of Sunday, Oct. 18, my husband sat down to a late dinner. Upon taking his first bite of beef ribs, he began choking. The piece of meat went down far enough into his throat that he could breathe (thank God), but he could not swallow any liquid. I am 34-weeks pregnant and I could not perform the Heimlich Maneuver properly on my choking husband. We tried several different methods to get the meat dislodged and nothing worked. Around 1 a.m., for fear of becoming dehydrated, my husband drove himself nine miles to the hospital in Rangely. I had to stay home with our 5-year-old daughter, whom we didn’t want to wake up because she had school the next day. You can imagine my surprise when my husband came home 30 minutes later. He had walked in the doors of the emergency room, explained that he was choking on a large piece of meat, and was told by the attending doctor to take himself to Vernal, Utah, or Grand Junction. No examination, no help, nothing. Last time I checked, we lived in America where a human being can enter an emergency room and expect to be treated and helped through their emergency. Isn’t there an oath doctors take?
He toughed it out until 5 a.m. and headed to the emergency room in Vernal. In Vernal my husband was promptly checked in, an I.V. was started and they began administering a common heart medicine, which also causes the throat and esophagus muscles to relax. They had him attempt to drink water to flush the meat out, but to no avail. As a last resort they used a scope to push the meat down his throat and into his stomach. My many thanks go out to the attentive staff at Ashley Regional Medical Center. The “doctors” at Rangely District Hospital could take a few pointers from them. A friend of my husband’s refers to our hospital as “a glorified first-aid station,” and now we are inclined to agree.
My advice to the citizens of Rangely: If you or a loved on are in need of medical attention and you would like quality care and respect from your physician, you will be hard pressed to find it at Rangely District Hospital. The medication my husband received in Vernal, like I said, was a common heart medication, used for heart patients in emergencies. The scope down his throat did require an anesthesiologist, but at the least the staff at Rangely Hospital could have tried. They could have administered the medication, and if it didn’t work, called over to Vernal and let them know the situation, and to expect a patient.
He walked in the door in the middle of the night, and their answer was, “Have a nice drive to Vernal, try not to pass out on the way.”
Samantha Bartling
Rangely