Posts Tagged "patients"

29Jan

Robotic seal provides emotional support for Alzheimer’s patients at Vancouver General Hospital

by admin


Nurse and clinical researcher Lillian Hung with Caspar, the “PARO”, or artificial intelligence seal being used with dementia patients at VGH.


PNG

A fuzzy, baby harp seal named Caspar is making a difference in the care of patients with dementia, thanks to the work of Lillian Hung, a clinical nurse specialist and researcher with Vancouver Coastal Health.

“He is a personal robot, or PARO, with artificial intelligence and because he is white, patients named him Caspar,” said Hung. “When they say its name, it will open its eyes and turn its head and lean toward the patient.”

The US$6,000 “social robot” was funded through a grant by the Woodward’s Foundation, and has been in use for about two years at Vancouver General Hospital. While the therapeutic benefits of live-therapy animals have been well-researched, using real animals with dementia patients in clinical settings presents real challenges, particularly among the frail and elderly. But Caspar seems to be getting the job done.

“We have a lot of older adults with cognitive impairment as part of the trend of the aging population,” said Hung. “When patients with dementia are under stress they might resist the care nurses are trying to provide, so I looked for an evidence-based, non pharmacological approach that could bring down patient stress and provide comfort.”

PAROs have been widely used in nursing-home settings in Germany and Denmark, and, in the U.S., it’s already a Food and Drug Administration-approved medical device covered by insurance when prescribed by a doctor.

Hung wondered if the PARO seal would bring about the same benefits — improved mood, positive social interactions and decreases in anxiety — seen in long-term care homes, when used in an acute-hospital setting.

In a study released in December 2019, Hung found that the robot helped patients with dementia “uphold a sense of self,” facilitated social connections and humanized the clinical setting.

“We had a person who came into the acute medicine unit who had dementia but came in with a cardio condition, and wouldn’t let us do an EKG or blood work, and he wouldn’t speak for three days,” said Hung. “When I brought PARO to him, he began petting PARO and the seal looked at him with his big eyes and the patient started to talk to him. He calmed down and we were able to do the blood work.

“The robot doesn’t judge him, the robot is non-threatening. One client tucked it right under her neck and said, ‘I like it,’ ” said Hung. “It gave her a sense of security.”

Equipped with dual, 32-bit processors, microphones, tactile sensors under the fur, and touch-sensitive whiskers, the robot responds to patients by moving its tail, opening and closing its eyes and leaning toward people that speak to it.

Hung said she would like to see more policy and structural support and medical funding to provide more PAROs to patients in B.C. hospitals.

“One patient said, ‘This is very fragile but there is a certain beauty to things that are fragile,’ ” said Hung. “He was mirroring his situation: He was fragile and he was able to give care to the robot that he couldn’t give to himself and it comforted him.”

dryan@postmedia.com

3Dec

Eric Cadesky: Should clinics turn away those who are not ‘their’ patients?

by admin


Doctors of B.C. president Dr. Eric Cadesky.


Doctors of B.C. / PNG

When reading the recent editorial by Dr. Rita McCracken et al. and its call to limit people’s access to care from virtual “walk-in” clinics, one cannot help but think of Justice Potter Steward’s admission that, while he could not define pornography, “I know it when I see it.” Similarly, it is easy to label some brick-and-mortar or virtual clinics as “walk-ins” and deride them for offering only episodic care, posting signs that say “one complaint per visit” or sending most difficult cases to the emergency room.

But these extremes are outliers that are over-represented in simplistic narratives. Reality is much more complicated.

I certainly agree with Dr. MacCracken and her colleagues that there is a dire need to strengthen primary care. Sixteen per cent of Canadians do not have a family doctor and those that do often cannot access a family doctor when most needed. This matters because having a doctor or care team that knows you leads to better health outcomes and more efficient care. Simply put, having a family doctor is good for your health and good for the healthcare system.

But the lines between traditional family practices and episodic care are increasingly blurred due to factors such as increasing healthcare needs of an aging population, rising business costs, and doctors’ demographic changes. For example, what should we call family practices (like mine) that offer advanced access — appointment times during the day reserved for patients of the clinic with urgent issues? These patients, while being attached to the clinic, are walking in.

And should clinics refuse to see people who are not patients of the clinic but have urgent issues? I would not turn away a febrile infant or an adolescent seeking vaccination or someone needing care after a motor vehicle accident just because they are not “my” patients. In fact, my experience is that many of these patients actually have their own doctors but cannot access them for various reasons: perhaps their doctors are fully booked or away without a replacement or located too far away. The latter is an important issue as housing pressures in British Columbia mean that many people commute significant distances to work or school, taking them away not only from their families and communities, but also from their usual places of care.

For those patients without a family doctor, every visit is an opportunity to find ways to come into the system, whether through community initiatives or within the clinic itself. In fact, several of the doctors that see patients through virtual “walk-in” platforms also work in clinics but are limited in the hours they can physically spend in the office due to competing family responsibilities. By allowing virtual care, doctors can spend time with their families and later be available to patients — especially their own — outside of the traditional daytime hours of many medical clinics. Similarly, when doctors are able to leverage technology to work flexible hours, this means that patients can in turn access care without being away from their own work and families.

So while major restructuring of our healthcare system is necessary to ensure people receive the care they need, it is simply unfair and unacceptable to deny access to the 400,000 people in British Columbia who don’t have a family doctor.

Instead of defensively limiting innovation and technology, let’s test different models of care and spread the successes so that people can overcome the current barriers to in-person care, such as physical disability, mental health, and transportation. Rather than bickering over how different clinics are trying to improve care in an outdated system, we need to move past traditional ideas if we hope to achieve a healthcare system that provides timely access to high-quality, efficient doctors and teams working with patients in the context of ongoing relationships.

And that is a goal I hope we can all agree on.

Dr. Eric Cadesky is a full-service family doctor in Vancouver.

21Nov

Thief allegedly stole from patients in cystic fibrosis ward at St. Paul’s Hospital

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The Vancouver police are investigating a theft at St. Paul’s Hospital on Nov 7 in the cystic fibrosis ward. The woman (in the photo) allegedly used a patient’s credit card in the hospital gift shop.


Facebook / PNG

Jennifer Wright was sleeping after a medical procedure at the cystic fibrosis clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver earlier this month when someone stole her belongings.

It’s stressful enough to be in the hospital but to have your bag stolen while you are ill is really low, said Wright, who has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. CF patients sometimes spend long periods of time in the hospital.

Wright, 41, a former classical ballet dancer, said she was sleeping after a procedure sometime between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Nov. 7 when her bag with her wallet and some food she had brought to eat was stolen.


Jennifer Wright, a former ballet dancer with cystic fibrosis, was in hospital for a medical procedure when a someone entered the CF ward at St. Paul’s Hospital and stole her bag with her wallet. The woman later allegedly used her card in the hospital gift shop.

When she realized her wallet had been stolen she called the bank and was informed that one of her credit cards had been used in the hospital gift shop.

With the help of a friend who volunteers at the hospital she was able to watch the surveillance video from the gift shop.

She then posted stills of the suspect on Facebook.

The young woman was seen on the security camera allegedly using Wright’s stolen credit card.

“On the tape, the (alleged) thief takes my credit card out of her bra, so she had most likely ditched my wallet already,” she said.

Sgt. Steve Addison, a spokesman for the Vancouver police, confirmed a theft was reported to VPD on Nov. 7 from a patient at St. Paul’s.

The incident is under investigation and no arrests have been made, he said Thursday. Addison also said police were aware of the surveillance camera photos that Wright posted on Facebook of the suspect.

Wright alleges the female suspect was with her boyfriend, an outpatient, and they were stealing from patients in the cystic fibrosis clinic, an area meant only for doctors and CF patients, some of whom are recovering from serious chest infections, which may include pneumonia.

Wright says at one point they were caught trying to come back into the CF clinic, but they ran down the stairs. She said a security guard caught up with them and asked the woman to dump out her bag to search for Wright’s wallet.

However because they didn’t see the wallet they had to let them go, she said.

Security told Wright there were multiple expensive sunglasses and headphones in the bag, which they deemed suspicious, she said.

Wright was living in Australia from 2011 to 2017, and said physical fitness from the ballet helped her stay healthy living with cystic fibrosis. However, she says because of her CF the government turned down her application for a visa and told her to leave the country. The stress of leaving her job and starting over in Vancouver has caused her CF to “go downhill,” she said.

She called anyone who steals from hospital patients “a sad excuse for a human being” and hopes the Vancouver police find the person responsible.

Providence Health Care, which operates St. Paul’s Hospital, has been contacted and is looking into what happened.

Anyone with information about the person in the surveillance photo can call the VPD or CrimeStoppers.


Jennifer Wright, a former ballet dancer with cystic fibrosis, was in hospital for a medical procedure when a someone entered the CF ward at St. Paul’s Hospital and stole her bag with her wallet. The woman later allegedly used her card in the hospital gift shop.

Thefts at St. Paul’s Hospital have been a problem in the past.  Last year, an Albertan woman told Postmedia she had her car broken into three times while she was visiting her dying brother.

ticrawford@postmedia.com

5Sep

B.C. government expands biosimilar drug program to Crohn’s, colitis patients

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https://vancouversun.com/


B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix in a file photo.


Francis Georgian / PNG

The British Columbia government says it’s expanding its substitute drug program to include 1,700 patients with diseases such as Crohn’s and colitis.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says biosimilars, which are cheaper alternatives to name-brand drugs, have worked well in other countries and the province will be saving about $96.6 million to be put back into health care over three years.

Biosimilars are highly similar versions of bioengineered drugs known as biologics, and there are 17 such products approved for sale in Canada.

Bioengineered medicine is the single biggest expense for public drug plans; in 2018, B.C. spent $125 million to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

In January, the province made a three-year, $105-million investment to help low-income British Columbians get access to the drugs.

The initial program announced in May saw over 20,000 British Columbians move their prescription from the biologic to biosimilar drugs.

30Jul

Health-care aide not guilty of sexually assaulting elderly patients, judge rules | CBC News

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A Saanich, B.C., man accused of sexually assaulting elderly patients during his time working as a health-care aide has been found not guilty of all charges against him.

Amado Ceniza, 40, was acquitted Monday of three counts of sexual assault and three counts of sexual touching of a person with a disability, Crown has confirmed. 

Ceniza was charged last July after three women claimed he’d assaulted them while working as their aide at Aberdeen Hospital in Victoria. The facility houses many seniors requiring long-term care.

Ceniza pleaded not guilty and denied the allegations against him.

In court on Monday, B.C. Provincial Court Judge Dwight Stewart said he was concerned about possible, unintentional collusion between alleged victims. 


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22Jul

Surgeons in B.C. get fee increase for operations on obese patients

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Dr. Kathleen Ross, president of Doctors of B.C.


Custom Photography / PNG

Some B.C. surgeons who operate on extremely obese patients are being paid a 25 per cent surcharge because surgeries on such patients often take longer and are riskier.

The change came into effect a few months ago for some physicians and will soon kick in for more medical specialists.

It came about after a survey three years ago showed that obese patients were falling through cracks. All but a handful of the B.C. surgeons who responded said they had delayed or declined to perform elective surgery on patients with a body mass index, or BMI, higher than 38. Four in five surgeons said they had delayed or declined to perform surgery over concerns about complications in patients with a BMI of 30 to 34.

Some patients have accused physicians of being biased against them.

Doctors of B.C. and the Ministry of Health have been working to solve the problem. General surgeons and anesthesiologists were the first to negotiate surcharges meant to compensate for added risks and time involved in treating obese patients. Gynecologists/obstetricians are also expected to get a surcharge soon.

Dr. Kathleen Ross, the new president of Doctors of B.C., said the government didn’t come up with extra money. Instead, money was reallocated from what’s called the available amount given to sections of physicians. Within sections like anesthesiology, fees shrunk for some procedures to allow for the surcharge which is referred to as a “BMI modifier.”

Although obesity is typically defined as a BMI over 30, the premium only applies for operations on patients with a BMI over 35. Several other provinces offer surgeons a premium.

BMI is calculated based on a person’s height and weight. For example, a woman who is five-foot-eight and weighs 270 pounds would have a BMI of 41.0.


Body Mass Index Primer; Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine

“This is in recognition of the fact that in obese patients, there may be more complications and areas of the body are more difficult to access,” Ross said. “Operations are more technically complex.”

Dr. Stephen Kaye, an obstetrician/gynecologist, said obesity affects all of patient treatment, making the initial evaluation, the surgery and post-operative care more complex.

Obese patients can have higher rates of infections, require longer hospital stays and more hospital readmissions. It takes longer to prepare obese patients for surgery, including getting them in position on larger operating room tables. Getting them sedated takes longer, said Kaye, who is co-president of the Doctors of B.C. section of obstetrics and gynecologists.

“Specialized equipment and retractors are required in order to visualize and reach the surgical site,” he said. “When operating on the abdomen and pelvis, for example, the distance between the skin surface and the abdominal contents is increased by the thickness of the fat of the abdominal wall.

“These are high-risk patients and increasingly, the care of these patients is being concentrated in the hands of a fewer number of physicians who are willing to accept the patients and have the expertise or who work in hospitals that have greater resources to provide such care,” Kaye said.

In the case of a hysterectomy, for example, the $654 fee paid to a gynecologist/obstetrician would rise by $72 for every 15 minutes beyond the standard two hours. For anesthesiologists sedating hysterectomy patients, the fee would be billed at $38 minutes for every 15 minutes but the BMI modifier would add an extra $20 for every 15 minutes beyond the two-hour typical surgery time.

Some anesthesiologists and other surgical specialists are paid through contracts so their compensation would be structured differently.

Dr. Curtis Smecher, an anesthesiologist at Abbotsford Hospital and president of the B.C. Anesthesiologists Society, said that in the last round of negotiations, each section of physicians was given a pot of money to distribute for pressing needs and the BMI bonus was a high priority for doctors in his area.

“It’s a bit like shuffling deck chairs,” he said about the reallocation, adding that he won’t be surprised if orthopedic surgeons are next to seek the premium since surgeries like joint replacements are far more difficult in obese patients.

Anesthesiologists say their management of obese patients is more complex because of thicker necks, chests, and abdomens in such patients who often have sleep apnea and reduced lung and heart function, which can affect airway management and ventilation during anesthesia.

Physician services cost taxpayers almost $5 billion a year. Ross would not disclose how funds are being shuffled around to pay the premiums, but in the latest Physician Master Agreement with the government, there was also some shifting of funds to address disparities between physician groups. For example, cataract fees to ophthalmologists were reduced about 18 per cent, from $425 a year to $350.

pfayerman@postmedia.com

Twitter; @MedicineMatters




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29May

New probe into patient’s death ordered by B.C. health minister

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Health Minister Adrian Dix.


Francis Georgian / PNG

Health minister Adrian Dix said he’s taking the rare step of ordering an independent review into a patient’s death because of the family’s continuing concerns after the initial investigation conducted by two health agencies.

The Vancouver individual, whose identity is being withheld, died in November 2018 and the only detail Dix would disclose is that paramedics had difficulty “accessing” the patient.

Dix conceded it is rare for health ministers to intervene in such cases and this is the first time he has done so since he became health minister two years ago. But he felt it was important for family members who told him  that they wanted “fresh” eyes on the circumstances leading to the death.

“I just felt we needed to do more,” he said, referring to the patient safety review that B.C. Emergency Health Services and Provincial Health Services Authority carried out right after the death.

The new review  will delve into the medical care in the weeks before the death and the emergency response “in the hours surrounding the death.”

The previous investigation was conducted with so-called Section 51 protection, which means there is no public disclosure. Section 51 safety reviews are conducted to see if anything can be learned from a death and suggest steps to prevent reoccurences.

Dix said the new study will have more transparency and will give family members more access to information and findings; the report will also be made although some information may be redacted “for the sake of privacy.”

Dix said he could have referred the case to the Patient Care Quality Review Board but in this case, there was a “technical glitch” that would have meant passing a new regulation. So, he said he decided to refer the case to Dr. Jim Christensen, an emergency physician at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver and head of the academic department of medicine at the University of British Columbia. He will be assisted by Dr. Michael Feldman, the paramedic services medical director and provincial dispatch medical director at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Centre for Prehospital Medicine.

In a purposely vague media release, the ministry of health said the review panel will have the “co-operation” of four agencies — Providence Health Care, VCH, BCEHS and PHSA.

“British Columbians can and do rely on our emergency responders when they are at their most vulnerable,” Dix said in the announcement. “Whenever we are faced with a case that may warrant a review, we look to independent experts who can look for learnings and suggest improvements that will benefit patients, first responders and the system as a whole.”

The government will receive the report by July.

Officials with PHSA would not comment on the internal review process that has already taken place. On its website, PHSA states: “When a patient safety event occurs, the goal is immediate management, disclosure and analysis of the event through a structured process, focused on system improvement, that aims to identify what happened, how and why it happened, whether there are any ways to reduce the risk of recurrence and make care safer. PHSA conducts patient safety event reviews in accordance with Section 51 of the B.C. Evidence Act.”

The review is meant to enable “full, open and candid discussions amongst health care professionals” with the goal of improving care for future patients. Further education or policy changes may be recommended.

“Patient safety event reviews do not preclude health-care professionals from cooperating in other reviews by outside investigative bodies, such as the police or regulators, nor do they shield health care professionals or PHSA from potential civil suits.”

pfayerman@postmedia.com

Twitter: @MedicineMatters




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11Apr

‘You want to scream’: Cost of organ transplant a worry for some B.C. patients

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When Peggy Mahoney discovered she had a rare liver condition and required a transplant, it came as a shock.

“No one saw it coming because I was a granola-eating, exercising, healthy person,” said Mahoney, of Victoria.

Thankfully, her son was a match for the life-saving transplant.

But Mahoney said she was shocked again to learn how much money she would need to set aside to follow through on her treatment.

All transplants in B.C. are done in Vancouver, where the medical expertise required to assemble transplant teams is available.

The cost of the medical care and the travel to Vancouver is covered by the province.

Follow-up care

But transplant patients then have to spend several months living near the hospital after their procedure for follow-up care. They also need to have a caregiver with them to provide support.

Those extra costs fall to the patient and can be as much as $20,000, Mahoney said.

“At that point, almost three years on disability, a lot of my liquid assets were gone,” she said.

“You want to scream at that point: ‘sick person here’. I was not very healthy, to try and come up with that kind of money.”

Mahoney managed to make her finances work, and had a successful liver transplant in 2012. As a counsellor, she now helps other critically ill patients navigate the medical system.

And she worries the rising cost of living in Vancouver has exacerbated the financial burden for transplant patients.

“A lot of these systems were developed in the 1980s where that wasn’t the same kind of financial hardship as it is today.”

Treatment and monitoring

Organ transplants are a highly complex procedure and patients must stay near the medical facility to be closely monitored by their transplant team for roughly three months, said Dr. David Landsberg, Transplant B.C.’s provincial medical director for transplant services.

While the need to stay in Vancouver can be a financial challenge, the team works with patients to ensure they have a plan, he said.

Charitable organizations such as Kidney Foundation, Happy Liver Society, Heart Home Society, David Foster Foundation and Ronald McDonald House also help provide affordable places for patients to stay during their treatment.

“We work very carefully with patients to help them find the right support, the right accommodations,” Landsberg said.

While he has heard of patients who decide against being added to the organ transplant list due to the cost and challenges of treatment, Landsberg said no one is turned away over financial need.

“I don’t know of anybody that would ever have been denied a transplant, just on the basis of they didn’t have the funds.”

But Mahoney hopes more can be done to ensure no one ever has to choose whether they can afford to save their own life.

In B.C., a record 502 organ transplants were conducted in 2018. Over 1.35 million British Columbians have registered their wishes to be an organ donor.


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9Mar

No place to go for homeless hospital patients after release: advocate

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The Fraser Health Authority says it is investigating after Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove raised concerns about a 76-year-old woman who was discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital and sent by taxi to the Chilliwack Salvation Army shelter, despite mobility and incontinence issues.

On Thursday, the mayor requested a meeting with Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee to discuss “why vulnerable people are being sent to Chilliwack homeless shelters from another community.”

He cited the case of an elderly woman who had no family in Chilliwack, but arrived at the local shelter from the Surrey hospital in early February. Shelter staff were not prepared to care for her medical needs, which included severe incontinence.


Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove has taken issue with a Fraser Health decision to send vulnerable hospital patients to the Chilliwack homeless shelter.

Submitted photo /

PNG

“Constantly cleaning up fecal matter … is a serious concern for both staff and shelter clients,” said Popove in a letter to Lee.

Fraser Health spokesman Dixon Tam said Fraser Health makes “every effort” to find homeless patients a place to go when they are clinically stable and ready to leave the hospital, but “finding suitable housing is a challenge across our region.”

Tam said: “We are committed to continue to work closely with B.C. Housing and our municipal partners to develop more options. At the same time, we need to be careful not to use hospital beds as an alternative to stable housing.”

Abbotsford homeless advocate Jesse Wegenast said he wasn’t surprised to read the Chilliwack mayor’s account in the newspaper, “but only because it’s such a common practice.”

Wegenast’s organization, The 5 and 2 Ministries, opened a winter homeless shelter in Abbotsford on Nov. 1. The next day, he received a call from a Vancouver General Hospital administrator asking if he had space for an 81-year-old patient.

Wegenast said he often says no to accepting patients because the shelter is not open 24 hours and people must leave during the day. He’s had requests to take people with severe mobility issues, as well as those who need help with toileting or washing.

“The people who work at shelters are often very compassionate, and if the hospital says, ‘Well, we’re not keeping them,’ they feel obligated to help,” said Wegenast.


Abbotsford pastor and homeless advocate Jesse Wegenast.

Ward Perrin /

PROVINCE

The pastor said he’s rarely seen people in shelters receive home care or followup care, and it’s also difficult for them to get prescriptions filled.

Wegenast helped a low-income senior on Friday who recently had half of his foot amputated. The man lives in an apartment and was receiving home care to help with dressing changes, but he’d been unable to get antibiotics for five days since being released from hospital.

“When you have people exiting acute care at the hospital and there’s no one to follow that up, it’s bad for that person’s health, and it’s also bad for public health in general,” he said.

Unlike Wegenast, Warren Macintyre was surprised to read about the Chilliwack woman’s situation because it confirmed that the experience he’d had with Fraser Health was not uncommon.

“I really had no idea this kind of thing was going on,” he said.

Three weeks ago, a close family member was admitted to Surrey Memorial after suffering from alcohol withdrawal, said Macintyre. He was placed on life support in the intensive care unit for about 10 days. When he was stable, he planned to enter a treatment program in Abbotsford, but there weren’t any beds available until March 14.

“We were told the plan was to keep him in hospital until then, but I got a call Wednesday telling me he’d been discharged,” said Macintyre.

Surrey Memorial had sent his relative to the treatment centre, where staff repeated they had no space, so he was returned to the hospital. The man, who had been staying at the Maple Ridge Salvation Army before his hospital admission, took a cab to a friend’s house.

His family is hoping he’ll be able to stay sober until he can get into treatment March 14.

“I told the hospital, if he goes back on the booze, he’ll be right back here,” said Macintyre.

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7Mar

Fraser Health rapped: Sent patients to Chilliwack homeless shelter

by admin

The exterior of Surrey Memorial Hospital.


The exterior of Surrey Memorial Hospital.


Arlen Redekop / PNG files

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove is demanding answers from the Fraser Health Authority after a 76-year-old woman with mobility and severe incontinence issues was discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital and sent by taxi to the Chilliwack Salvation Army shelter early last month.

In a letter to Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee, the mayor said he is aware of two cases in which shelter staff were asked to take patients from the Surrey hospital without being told about the care they required.

“A homeless shelter is no place for a person with health concerns or special medical needs,” the mayor said in the letter, which was sent to Fraser Health on Tuesday. “Discharging patients into homeless shelters when they still require some level of care is not an acceptable practice. Homeless shelters provide clients with a cot for the night which is not suitable for a recently discharged patient.”

In his letter, the mayor recounted the case of an elderly woman who arrived from the hospital by taxi on Feb. 2.

“According to the Salvation Army, this elderly individual arrived with a walker and some significant health concerns, including incontinence, and is unable to clean herself,” said Popove. “Shortly after her arrival, it was clear that the Salvation Army would be unable to accommodate her at their shelter due to sanitary and safety concerns.”

The woman was transferred to a temporary shelter without stairs, but “her physical and mental health needs continued to make it impossible for staff to care for her.” She left the shelter on her own and returned to the Salvation Army.

On Feb. 22, the shelter received another call from Fraser Health about a man who was being discharged from Surrey Memorial and needed a bed.

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove.


Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove.

Handout

“After further investigation, they learned that the patient was in a wheelchair, had open wounds on his feet and needed to be in a hospital bed,” said the mayor. “This information was not disclosed by the social worker, and shelter staff realized they would be unable to provide the level of care this individual requires.”

The mayor asked the Fraser Health CEO to answer several questions, including whether hospitals regularly discharge patients into homeless shelters.

“I would like to know why vulnerable people are being sent to Chilliwack homeless shelters from another community,” Popove added. “How is it possible that a 76-year-old woman with multiple significant health concerns could have been discharged from Surrey Memorial Hospital and sent via taxi to a homeless shelter in Chilliwack over 70 kilometres away from her home, friends and family?”

Popove asked for a meeting with Lee to discuss the situation and “to ensure this woman is reconnected with her community and proper care.”

Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said Fraser Health received the letter late Wednesday and is looking into the mayor’s claims. She could not comment on specific cases, but explained that patients are sometimes discharged from hospital into a shelter when they are “deemed to be medically stable.”

Like someone who is being discharged to a home, Fraser Health ensures community supports are in place for the person, and shelter staff are informed and must agree to the situation, she said.

Juma was unable to say if Fraser Health staff followed this procedure in the two cases mentioned by Popove in his letter.

More to come …

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