Overwhelmed healthcare system: Waiting for urgent stomach surgery

A Lévis man who can no longer sleep a wink at night is impatiently awaiting the urgent operation that could relieve his pain, but comes up against an overcrowded healthcare system.

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Étienne Germain-Pouliot suffers from a 12 cm hiatal hernia requiring an operation.

“A gastroenterologist told me it was probably from birth. But my stomach moved over time and it got worse,” said the 35-year-old.

The first symptoms appeared when he was old enough to take alcohol. He vomited systematically when he drank beer.


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“Around the age of 23 or 24, I started taking gastric lift pills. We said it was going to pass. Now the drugs work during the day, but lose effect in the evening. I have gastric lifts which often prevent me from sleeping, ”says the video game tester who stopped working because of his health problems.

“Twenty or 30 years ago, there were more operations like this because there were no drugs for reflux,” he continues. I’m on my full meds and it’s not doing the job.”

doctor’s orphan

The Lévisien estimates that he has been waiting for a family doctor for 10 years. In desperation he turned to the private sector.

“I needed a doctor and I was tired of always going to the emergency room. It continued until a doctor asked for examinations, ”he says.

Before thinking about an operation, a specialist advised her a new drug, which did not solve the problem.

“With COVID it took like six months to successfully see him (the specialist) again. This is where they finally decided to operate on me, ”he adds.


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Mr. Germain-Pouliot obtained a doctor’s note on which it was mentioned that he had to be operated on within 30 days. It will soon be three months.

“I have a really shitty quality of life. I can only eat slack, because I can’t digest anything anymore, I’m in the water. I have to wait, but they don’t tell me how long it will take. Does the stomach have to be completely up in the rib cage to be considered urgent? If I don’t have surgery, one fine day, not so far away, I won’t be able to swallow anything anymore,” he fears.

Major surgery

The operation he has to undergo is not benign. In particular, it requires two days in intensive care.

“It seems that they cannot have me (at the Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis) two days in intensive care. They also tell me that they only have one surgeon who also does lung cancer,” says Mr. Germain-Pouliot.

“The only way would be to go to another country and the only place I would trust would be the United States, but it costs too much,” he regrets.

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