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.