Family of transferred patient focusing on getting her back to Corner Brook

Cory Hurley
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STEPHENVILLE CROSSING  Alice Hinks is surrounded by a large group of family as she settles into her new surroundings in the Bay St George Long-Term Care facility in Stephenville Crossing.

Her son, Todd Hinks, said they are doing their best to make the 90-year-old Deer Lake woman feel at ease following her transfer there from Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook on Wednesday.

Despite their efforts to stop it, Alice was transferred due to a shortage of beds at Western Memorial. She was in an acute-care bed for more than a year, waiting for a long-term care placement, when the need to utilize the bed for emergency or surgical patients occurred.

The Hinks family is worried the move to another facility in another part of western Newfoundland would be difficult mentally on Alice. Hinks said his mother has a history of severe anxiety, claustrophobia and panic attacks. She becomes overwhelmed when strangers are in her room and receives comfort from family members who visit her daily.

The move to Stephenville Crossing will take some of that away from her.

Hinks, who travelled with her to Stephenville Crossing, said his mother was medicated for the transfer and had her large support system in place throughout the day.

“Unfortunately, that may not be the case every day,” he said.

His said his focus now is to get her back to Corner Brook as soon as possible.

Right down to the last hour, the Hinks family fought to keep the elderly and ailing woman in hospital in Corner Brook.

Hinks said his mother was determined a suitable patient to move because of her physical-care needs, but feels her mental well-being is being ignored.

“When we broke the news to her, she broke down and cried,” he said.

He said hospital administrators are preaching “policy, policy, policy,” but they are not considering the bigger picture. He is concerned his mother may not survive the transfer or suffer irreparable complications.

“I would not be surprised if she suffered a mini-stroke because of this,” he said. “I told (hospital administration) that it is like they are pushing her out to pasture. I told them it is like they have a licence to kill.”

He did say the family had the option to take his mother home, but they do not consider that a viable alternative.

Hinks, and the rest of his family, asked for her to remain at Western Memorial or be transferred to a long-term care bed in Corner Brook. He said he has been told she is sixth on the wait list for a long-term care bed, and there is no timeframe for how long she would be at the Bay St. George Long-Term Care before there is an opening.

They have contacted a number of politicians — including Liberal Party Leader Dwight Ball, New Democratic Party Leader Lorraine Michael, and Humber West MHA Vaughn Granter — who Hinks said are looking into the matter on their behalf.

“We have our fingers crossed, just praying for some kind of miracle,” he said. “We are hoping somebody comes through for us.”

Meanwhile, Michael called the situation a sad reflection of the state of senior care in the province.

“I was appalled to hear that it is considered normal for an appreciable percentage of the beds in Western Memorial Hospital to be regularly occupied by people who should really be in other facilities,” Michael stated in a press release.

The leader said there is a crisis in senior care which government refuses to address with any kind of comprehensive plan.

“The eventual solution will include a mix of adequate home care, accessible and affordable housing, personal-care homes and long-term care facilities,” Michael stated.

Western Memorial has been seeing more patients than available beds for some time, and said long-term care patients are best served in long-term care facilities.

“We understand that decisions to move patients waiting for long-term care out of hospital to a long-term care facility that’s not their first choice are difficult on individuals and their families,” a spokesperson stated via an email. “These are very difficult decisions and we try and balance the immediate need for acute-care beds with the needs of our long-term care patients.”

Organizations: Western Memorial Regional Hospital, Liberal Party Leader Dwight Ball and New Democratic Party

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Deer Lake, Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Stephanie
    January 16, 2014 - 12:08

    As disheartening as the transfer of this lady is for her and her family, unfortunately it was probably twice as disheartening to the people who waited months to recieve a call for surgery only to have their surgerys cancelled a day or two before due to the lack of beds at Western Memerial. As well as the really sick that are being sent home due to the lack of beds that should be admitted to the hospital. So yes while I sympathatize to this family's plight, this lady is getting the proper care she needs in a medical facility which is much better than what the others have had to deal with.

  • chrisa
    January 16, 2014 - 07:18

    I find it hard to believe Lorraine Michael was appalled to learn hospital beds are being taken up with medically discharged patients waiting for long term care beds. I have been working in health care since 1999. This was the practice then and nothing has changed, if anything it has gotten worst. If a long term bed becomes available within western health,[ Port aux Basque to St. Anthony, the resident-- not considered a patient] they are required to take this bed, even it this means relocating to a different community. How is the opposition leader not aware of a matter as serious as this.? I hope this situation is soon settled for the lady and her family; and their mom is in the same community so family are able to visit more easily- rather than risking their lives travelling over our roads, or does Ms. Michael know that we get snow on our roads in winter?