When Kevin Forrest’s girlfriend Amy Boutilier was having a medical emergency last week, he drove her to Northside General Hospital in Nova Scotia. But the emergency room was closed.

Instead of being greeted by doctors, they were greeted by security who said ER hours at the hospital are between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. They were too early. It was between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“They said ‘The emergency room is closed. There’s no doctors here,’” Forrest told CTV Atlantic.

They were instructed to go instead to Cape Breton Regional Hospital, more than 20 kilometres away from Northside in Sydney. On their way, the car hydroplaned and ended up on its roof in the median of Highway 125, bruising Forrest and taking Boutilier’s life. She was 39.

“They didn’t offer to call an ambulance, they didn’t tell me to call an ambulance. They just said ‘Take her to Sydney,’” he recalled.

“North Sydney should have (taken) her. It’s a hospital. Somebody could have (done) something.”

But Greg Boone, spokesman for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said people should call 911 first in an emergency. The health authority was made aware of a situation in which people arrived to the closed ER Wednesday morning, though he could not speak specifically about Forrest’s and Boutilier’s case.

“They offered to call 911, paramedics, to attend. And they also indicated that the Cape Breton Regional Hospital emergency department was open and the person could make their decision based on that information,” he said. “We do know the person left the hospital property after getting that information.”

The woman’s death is a tragic reminder to some that the hospital’s emergency room hours should change, said Eddie Orrell, Nova Scotia health critic and Progressive Conservative MLA for Northside-Westmount.

“Emergencies don’t happen between eight and four every day,” he said. “They happen at any given time of the day. That’s why an emergency department is supposed to be there, that’s how it’s supposed to function. If it had been functioning that way, this tragedy may have been prevented.”