Why would you need an ambulance to take you to the hospital, if you're already at the hospital? This is the question recently posed by Doreen Wallace, who injured herself during a visit to a hospital in Niagara Falls, Canada and was denied treatment until an ambulance was called. To the hospital. Where she already was, if that wasn't clear enough. Egads.

Wallace, 82, was at Greater Niagara General Hospital to visit her dying husband when she fell in the lobby and broke her hip. She also suffered at least one nasty cut. Instead of grabbing one of those wheeled beds or a wheelchair and taking her straight to the emergency room, hospital staff refused to help her. [They did bring her a "dirty" blanket to wrap her head in and some paper towels to staunch her bleeding. — Ed.] Wallace reportedly spent about a half-hour lying on the floor before paramedics showed up. "It was horrible. It really was. Everybody who walked through the door stopped and stared at me," she told the Toronto Star.

This isn't the first time the hospital has turned away a patient already at the hospital, the Star reports:

Last April, 39-year-old Jennifer James died from a "catastrophic heart event" a few days after emergency department staff refused to help her in the parking lot after her boyfriend drove her there when she lost consciousness and stopped breathing. He was told to call 911 instead.

And in July, local Councillor Joyce Morocco, who has a history of heart problems and asthma, was semi-consciousness when taken to the same hospital by her husband. He was also told to call an ambulance.

FWIW, the Ontario health minister is none too pleased by the hospital's customer service, and the hospital itself has apologized to Wallace. Supposedly some policy reviews are underway. Shouldn't they have reviewed the policies after the "catastrophic heart event" incident? Not pointing fingers here, just trying to apply reasoning skills.

Good to be reminded that the U.S. hasn't completely cornered the market on healthcare-related dysfunction. Unless you're injured or dying at Greater Niagara General Hospital, then it's not.

[The Star]