Man facing brain surgery delay speaks at Sask. Legislature

A Saskatoon man says he doesn’t know when he will be able to receive brain surgery due to staffing shortages that have left a necessary pre-op procedure unavailable.

On Tuesday, Brennon Dulle and his wife Gillian were at the Saskatchewan Legislature.

“I came here because I’ve had two strokes, two brain surgeries, and have severe epilepsy that seems to be uncontrollable right now, and I can’t get the medical help in Saskatchewan I need,” he said. “We have no idea when the pre-op is.”

Gillian said that her husband is awaiting third brain surgery; however, he needs a pre-op procedure before getting the surgery.

“Besides not having the bed for the surgery itself, there is also not the staff right now to do the procedure that he needs before the surgery,” she said. “He is not even on the surgery waitlist because he needs this pre-op procedure first that he can’t get because of staff.”

One of those pre-op procedures, according to Gillian, is an electroencephalogram (EEG).

“Brennon’s quality of life has struggled in the last six years, and more so in the last two years as we’ve been waiting for this procedure,” Gillian said.

She said that they both would like to see an actual plan from the Government to address the surgical backlog and staffing shortages.

“I think the pandemic has highlighted issues that existed in our health system before. He (Health Minister Paul Merriman) spoke about a plan to get that surgery waitlist documented but not the details of the plan. We are not the only ones. There is a lot of people in our province that deserve the right to healthcare and aren’t getting it right now.”

Saskatchewan NDP Deputy Leader Nicole Sarauer used her question period time to ask for a response from Minister Merriman.

In response to Dulle’s story, Merriman did acknowledge that the Government has faced challenges.

“We did some challenges last year; I think that is well documented. We had to compress our healthcare system to deal with the Delta wave and subsequent Omicron wave. We had to make some difficult decisions.”

Merriman also pointed to the Government’s recent investment to increase funding to reduce the province’s surgical backlog and recruit more healthcare workers.

“I’ve heard from a lot of families that have had some challenges, either with surgeries or with prolonged program delay,” he said. “Not decisions we wanted to make as a government but decisions we felt we had to make to protect our system.”

Merriman said he would like to sit down with Gillian and Brennon.

“Be happy to sit down with them and discuss their specifics on their case on where they are in the surgical procedure and what their doctor is feeling.”

He added that Saskatchewan is currently performing around 97 per cent of scheduled surgeries.

The response from the Minister wasn’t enough for the Dulle’s.

“I feel like it was lacking compassion,” Gillian said. “We’ve been very intimately involved with healthcare and the people who work in the healthcare system, and with all the stress that they themselves are under, one thing that we’ve always found is that we’ve received compassion and care from doctors, nurses, paramedics, and I feel like that compassion was lacking when we came here.”

Brennon said he found the response’ horrible’ and ‘very disappointing.’

There are currently over 35,000 people awaiting surgery in Saskatchewan.

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