When he’s asked why certain health care services are not available at the hospital in Stephenville, Muise has learned it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.
“While I always saw my generation as one who fended for itself, kept its personal business private and did not air its dirty laundry in public, those responsible for the health care system in this province apparently see (seniors) as a rather docile bunch who will tolerate our needs being ignored,” he said.
Muise said he is an octogenarian — between 80 and 89 years old — and as others his age will appreciate, he doesn’t get around as well as he used to and is dealing with some serious medical concerns.
“I have had diabetes for some time and, more recently, kidney failure has necessitated I undergo dialysis treatments,” he said. “Once diagnosed, I learned there are few opportunities for treatment in Stephenville.”
When Muise was younger, having to travel to Corner Brook two or three times a week would not have presented a problem. At this stage in his life, however, the whole experience causes considerable physical, financial, mental and emotional stress on him and on his family.
Given his condition, the strength needed to travel so much creates considerable difficulty.
“I am on a small fixed income and normal expenses, coupled with having to purchase a reliable vehicle and hire a driver has created considerable hardship. Perhaps of most concern is the constant fear of the possibility that stormy weather may one day prevent my receiving this life-saving treatment or even arriving at my destination in one piece,” he said.
More recently he was diagnosed with cancer and, after major surgery, was released from Western Memorial Hospital n Corner Brook on Friday evening because the hospital needed the bed. Despite his weakened state after the surgery, Muise was required to travel back to Corner Brook once again Monday morning for his regular dialysis treatment.
“The nurses in (Western Memorial) are excellent and I couldn’t be treated better,” he said. “It’s just the hardship involved with the drive and the costs associated with it.”
Muise said the Provincial Advisory Council on Aging and Seniors consists of 13 members from around the province appointed by the Minister of Health and Community Services, Susan Sullivan. The members are located in Clarenville, Flowers Cove, L’Anse au Clair, Meadows, Grand Falls-Windsor, Mobile, Mount Pearl and Goulds.
With this in mind, he wondered: who speaks for seniors in Stephenville and the Bay St. George area?
While Western Health cannot comment on a specific case, it did provide a written statement on how a location for dialysis is determined.
Western Health provides dialysis in three locations in the Western region. The main dialysis unit is at Western Memorial Regional Hospital and there are two satellite units — one at Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital and one at Charles LeGrow Health Centre.
The satellite units treat those clients who meet the requirements to receive dialysis at a satellite unit, as assessed by their specialist. Home-based dialysis is also available to appropriate patients.
At this time, the satellite unit at Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital is at full capacity, and clients who are eligible are on a wait list that is prioritized based on the length of time a client has been waiting.
When this happens, clients may be required to receive a portion or all of their required dialysis at another site where there is space available. In these situations, clients are given priority to receive all of their dialysis from their preferred site as soon as space becomes available.