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September 2014
An elderly woman's premature death
Sep 30, 2014 3:23 PM

I would like to share my mother's healthcare experience. I read today that a woman in a hospital in Manitoba was left in her own feces and the province's regional health authority is investigating. I live in Toronto, but I have to say, I have never experienced a bureaucracy as self-serving and callous as they are.

My mother was removed from her apartment in February of 2012 and taken to her local hospital. My brother had complained about the care on numerous occasions but nothing was done to remedy the situation. The health authority just cancelled the service. They seemed to want to protect themselves and not my mother. She waited until 2:30 AM to see a doctor and then she was placed in an emergency bed for ten days. She was taking up a bed, so the bed utilization specialist said she would be transfered to an aboriginal shelter if my brother didn't release her, so he did.

They put my mother in the worst place. It has a horrible reputation. A Canadian news program had a feature about this place and a man was killed there. My mother had colorectal cancer with a prognosis of six months but she did not see the doctor for 13 days after her arrival. At that point she was treated for bed sores which she acquired at this nursing home. She was often seen with nothing on her feet and without her bra. The staff could not bother to dress her properly. Her oncologist had recommended that she be in palliative care but this was never done. I asked about this by letter and was told that there was no record of initiating a palliative care referral. Of course, there wasn't one because it never happened.

My own doctors in Toronto are appalled by the responses of these cancer care specialists. A woman with colorectal cancer was not treated at all and her respective health authority deems this as appropriate. At the hospital, the emergency room doctors said she had an egg allergy and no tests were done to have this diagnosis. On March 22, 2012, our mother was rushed to a local hospital where she died from sepsis due to a perforated bowel, not from her cancer. The doctors said they would have done surgery but she would not have survived it. Our mother's cancer had not grown so she could have had more time. We feel it was the poor care at this nursing home and the laziness of doctors to not have placed our mother in palliative care. I had a ticket to come in but waited because I was looking after someone here. I did not get a chance to see my mother before she died and I did not anticipate her death.

Our regional health authority said decubitus ulcers are common and to be expected. From what I have read, it is not. They also said it is acceptable not to see the staff doctor at a nursing home for 12 or 13 days. I was then told that further correspondence would not be helpful. It would be to me. I had to go to the Ministry of Health to ask further questions because they would not answer my emails. It has been a nightmare. The most vulnerable in our society are treated like this and it's acceptable. I have read about many unfortunate incidents in Manitoba, such as the elderly being dumped off by taxis and others dying on their doorsteps. This was also deemed as appropriate discharge measures.

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