Woman who was transferred between health care facilities has died

Cory Hurley
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Todd Hinks poses with his mother Alice Hinks during her 90th birthday celebration earlier this year. — Submitted photo

If there was ever a time Todd Hinks wanted to be wrong about something, it was the impact a transfer from hospital in Corner Brook to a long-term care facility in Stephenville Crossing would have on his elderly mother.

Alice Hinks, 90, spent 14  months at Western Memorial Regional Hospital, living out her life as close to comfort as she could get, her family said.

On Jan. 15, because of a bed shortage at Western Memorial, Ms. Hinks was taken from her acute-care bed and transported 80 kilometres west to the Bay St. George Long-Term Care facility.

About nine weeks later, she died.

Ms. Hinks’ reaction to the move was tears, her son said, and she asked her family to fight to keep her at the Corner Brook hospital.

Hinks and his family fought the move to Stephenville Crossing and met with representatives of Western Health to plead their case. They were concerned about the mental impacts on the woman, who had a history of anxiety, claustrophobia and panic attacks.

They contacted members of government and opposing parties. Their plight was picked up by a number of media outlets. Alice was still moved.

Hinks said they made the best of the move, and his mother was doing OK for a while. However, she later got an infection, and was not able to overcome it. She was transferred back to Corner Brook, and at last received a long-term care placement, but was bedridden by that time.

She died March 24.

“I told (hospital administration) that it is like they are pushing her out to pasture,” Hinks told The Western Star at the time of the transfer.

“I told them it is like they have a licence to kill.”

A week after his mother’s death, he said maybe his mother would have died at the same time even without being transferred between facilities, but he is skeptical. He said she had always been told she had a healthy heart, and had been doing just fine for so long.

“Yes, I understand that she was 90 years of age, and she wouldn’t get up too easily to do a jig, but people live to be a 100,” he said. “So, you understand we were not giving up on her when it seemed everybody else had.”

Hinks holds his mother in high regard. She overcame cancer in 1968 at the age of 44, and the mother of eight lost her husband at the age of 45. Her son calls her a fighter.

“She was my anchor, and it really does bother me that after all the warnings they still moved her, and now she’s passed,” he said.

Hinks says he does not want to open old wounds, but he said it is important people know what happened. He said the people making the decisions must understand the consequences, and the public has to be aware what is happening.

“Because of bed shortages?” he asked. “Because they are old, and who gives a damn? Oh, she’s 90, lived a long life?

“No, that does not sit good with me ... It’s people like my 90-year-old mom who deserve respect and care.”

At the time, Cynthia Davis, vice-president of patient services, said the hospital was experiencing more admissions through the emergency department and scheduled surgical procedures than the number of discharges.

A review of all patients within the hospital was done to determine whether support care could be provided in another location or for discharge. This includes transferring patients to another facility within the region — whether it be between acute-care facilities or an acute-care patient waiting for a long-term care bed.



Organizations: Western Memorial Regional Hospital

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Western Star

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Recent comments

  • Todd hinks
    April 06, 2014 - 10:51

    I have read the comments and i must say i agree, however, what i have seen over the 16 months would shock most people. I know acute care is not the same as long term care but it wasn't my moms fault there are not enough beds. Why should she have taken the brunt of this? Initially after the first 5 months, we wanted to take our mother home and wait for a placement into long term care, it was the hospital who said it was for the better interest of our mother that she stay in the hospital. Also, when placement was finally decided, it was told to us on a Friday and given 3 days to accept this decision, and mom being moved on Monday, fortunately we were able to prolong the move to Wednesday, as we were not able to contact anybody over the weekend. The public also should be made aware that mom was not staying there for free...the hospital was $1200.00 plus a month sharing a room and bathroom with 2 other ladies. The long term care facility was In excess of $2500.00 a month and we had to pay for tv service separately. Do the math on all the people there and that's a fair share of money. I am not harping on the poor care she got, She was well looked after in the three facilities. I am saying that there are too few beds and this problem is lying on the people that have to stay there. They are paying their way as they have done all their life and they should not take the brunt of the poor management of the health care system in Western N.L. Mom was at acute care for so long because there was no availability for long term care. This first bed policy that somebody dreamed up is outrageous. In order to get to Long term care faster, people have to accept a bed where ever that may be, in moms case it was farther from her family. Again, it all stems from the lack of beds and the elderly are the ones who have to suffer for this. Unfortunately, most of us will reach this same fate one day, so Politicians and Administrations, its time to earn your keep and fix the problem.

    • Maria Castor
      May 14, 2014 - 22:37

      Are you related to her?

  • jcat
    April 05, 2014 - 06:23

    I have been working in health care for 20 years.14 months for a patient to be in a acute care setting /bed is unheard of and can be very taxing on the health care system . The biggest failure here is the immediate lack of Long Term Care beds. As baby boomer's retire that will only become worse , unless something is done. When resources are limited, tough decisions have to be made. I question if Mr.Hinks was given the option of taking his Mother home rather than seeing her transferred to the LTC facility in Bay St George . It's difficult losing a loved one and my condolences go out to the family but in reality I see no wrong here , unless your mother was neglected or abused while she was at the LTC facility and that directly contributed to her passing. What would have been sad would have been a patient who is stuck in ER for several days and gets sicker or dies because of lack of acute care beds.

  • colleen felker
    April 02, 2014 - 22:01

    I,'m glad you told your story and you are 100% correct in what you had said.

  • Tony Young
    April 02, 2014 - 15:14

    I am sitting here choked up reading this story. 1st off I would like to say to the family how deeply sorry I am for your loss. 90 is very old, and a reason why your mother and others her age should be treated with the utmost respect in any of these situations. Unfortunately, Western Health does not have the best track record in the country when it comes to health care and treatment toward patients. My mother was a patient with C.O.P.D. at the Sir Thomas Roderick Hospital in Stephenville in April of 2011 and again April of 2012. Both times it was a life and death situation where she was placed in I.C.U. and both times we had issues with the way she was treated during both stays from a nurse in I.C.U. as well as with two other nurses on the medical ward. After bringing my concerns to the Administration and having a face to face meeting with two of its members I was told that there would be an investigation into the way my mother was treated. To this day I never got a phone call and this was after calling them back several times until I gave up. I now wish I had put a story in the Western Star and named names of all those involved including the names of the Administration that did nothing to change the abuse that goes on under their watch. People need to hear these stories, our mothers who lived long lives and raised kids, paid taxes to the province and funded health care during their lives of health, plain and simply earned and paid for it. The young, Admin personal with their university degrees may feel our mothers lacked the knowledge that they earned at MUN, but these ladies are not stupid and they know what their needs are. In your mothers case her need was to stay where she was. Others showing up at the hospital needing long term care may have had an option to be moved to either (God forbid), Stephenville or Grand Falls to keep your mother where she wanted and needed to stay. I would think the move from her family caused her death, and like you said, there is no way to prove it. Sad to see what Western Health gets away with because so many are afraid to speak up. If I had my time back a few heads would have rolled for what was done to my mother. She was refused water by two nurses one night and she had a witness overhear a nurse telling my mother who buzzed the 2nd time for water that if she buzzed again her buzzer would be shut off and she had enough water for the night. After my mother told me the next day what happened I went to the nurses station and demanded to see my mother`s file and when I opened it, there was a note from her doctor advising my mother required extra liquids. No one would tell me who her nurse was the night before. And when my mother described her all nurses at the station has a butt the width of a stove and dressed in clown outfits. Nurses covered up for the nurse who said this to my mother and when I got wind of what was going on I demanded a meeting with Admin to have the 3 nurses involved fired from the hospital and no less. I had to return to Winnipeg shortly after my mother recovered and returned to her home in Kippens. My family members also asked me to back off in case my mother had to return to the hospital and would be treated worse. More people need to speak up about the treatment of their loved ones because I could type here all day with other stories of family members that experienced down right abuse under the care of Western Health.

  • Lorraine
    April 02, 2014 - 11:48

    I am so very sorry for your loss. And so sorry for the circumstances your mom and your family had to face. May your beautiful mom rest in peace.

  • Brian
    April 02, 2014 - 11:02

    This happens in every hospital across Canada. Many families fail to realize that the hospital is an ACUTE care facility and therefore, long-term or chronic care patients need to receive care in other facilities that are better suited for their needs. 14 months in the hospital setting is a long time. I know if this lady was in the hospital where I work, she would have been transferred a long time ago. I don't want to minimize the loss here as I am sure it was and still is quite difficult for the family. However, the family and the public has to realize that a hospital has to do what is necessary to accommodate everyone that comes through their doors, especially if it is an acute medical situation.

  • Kathy Pollard
    April 02, 2014 - 08:34

    How many families will experience the same thing before something is done? To watch your parents treated with such disrespect as they reach the end of their journey without recourse, leaves families distraught. How long will we allow this to continue? When will someone care enough to investigate what is happening with patient care through Western Health?

  • Marie Hynes
    April 02, 2014 - 08:00

    Aunt Alice and those of her generation were what made Nl strong they gave their all and took nothing in return, never relied on the handouts of Gov, had too much pride to take anything for nothing. Good, honest, hardworking people who just wanted to be treated with dignity in her declining years. WAY TO GO SYSTEM, ANOTHER ONE FAILED>

  • The Agree-er
    April 02, 2014 - 06:52

    Mr. Hinks....you are correct and hit the nail on the head. People who make these types of decisions have yet to experience similar plights on a personal level...until that is done, our loved ones will be shipped off away from family. I have a love one who is battling a fatal disease and will eventually end up in one of these "Homes"....I can"t imagine having her "shipped" out away from family and friends to live out her last days alone.......time for someone to wake up here and have a bit of commonsense...which is definitely lacking from some managerial minds!

  • Darlene
    April 02, 2014 - 05:49

    Same thing happen to my grandfather 4 years ago