Health Care – Critical. The Sault & Area Health Coalition hosts public forum


“There are very serious things happening in Sault Ste. Marie in all facets of our health care system – Tonight we invite you to share your story.” stated Margot Dale – Chair – Sault & Area Health Coalition.

With two scribes set at tables, attendees to the Sault & Area Health Coalition forum  on Wednesday, April 12th, 2017, at the Moose Family Centre, had the opportunity to either share concerns and personal stories directly to the individual scribe  or to the group at large. Many chose to share stories at the microphone – Stories where a broken health care system intersected with their life.

The issue of long-term care and home care for aging persons was a recurring theme, as were wait times for a bed or medical treatments, including lab work, at Sault Area Hospital.

The forum was designed to offer citizens the opportunity to bring forward health-care related issues and questions ahead of a yet-to-be-decided by-election date in Sault Ste Marie. The Sault & Area Health Coalition will be hosting an ‘All Candidates Debate’ on health care. The by-election is expected to be called sometime in late spring or summer 2017 to replace David Orazietti.

Margot Dale stated that she has received a flurry of phone calls from concerned persons regarding Cedarwood Lodge. “It’s one thing to have a ‘cease admission’ order in place – but what about my mother?” shared Dale, as one example of the myriad of phone calls she continues to receive. On March 28th, 2017, Cedarwood Lodge in Sault Ste. Marie was ordered by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care to cease all further admissions until further notice.

Patty Frost shared that her concerns for seniors and elderly persons include the financial burden to the elderly individual who is often choosing between nutrition and paying bills in order to stay in their home. “The longer a senior can live in their own home the better it is.”

“There are a lot of seniors out there who are wearing coats and heavy sweaters inside their home.”

Frost also raised the issue of counseling and support groups for care-givers, and those who are coping with a loved one inside a long-term care home. “There simply aren’t enough staff at the homes (LTC).” she said.

Sharon Richer, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions supported the forum and was part of the panel of experts. She stated that CAW, UNIFOR and CUPE unions have been, and continue to demand a minimum standard of care for long-term care homes, dating back as far as 2005. “It’s been a long battle. What we really need are 4 hours minimum standard of care per resident over a 24 hour period. It all comes down to the (Ontario) Ministry of Health and what is available in the funding envelopes. There are campaigns going on within the unions.”

Marlene Trussler posed questions about funding to Alternative/Interim long-term care homes.

Susan McCooeye shared, “What we have are ‘case mix indexes’ (CMI) of care. If you are in an alternative or interim level of care bed – you are funded at 1. If you are funded at a place like the Davey Home (for example) you are funded at .97. The ALC bed is actually funded higher than other long-term care beds in this city. There really is no excuse for the level of care at a place like Cedarwood.” she said.

‘CMI is a numeric value assigned to a long-term care home and is used as a measure of the average care requirements of residents in the long-term care home. The Case Mix Index is multiplied by the Base Level of Care Per Diem for the Nursing and Personal Care envelope only, and is applied to a home’s Classified Beds.’ For further information on resident care assessment and CMI calculations, go

McCooeye added, “The residents at Cedarwood appear to have been overlooked. Even though they are supposed to be there on an interim basis, they are staying there and not going to their long-term care home preference.” Cedarwood Lodge is owned and operated by  privately held ‘Autumnwood Community Care Inc.’, Sudbury, Ontario.

Kelly Richer works at Extendicare VanDaele and expressed that plans are underway to retrofit VanDaele to accommodate some of the ever-growing long-term care wait lists. “It’s not a re-build or new build – it’s a renovation. They are still waiting on final approval from the Ministry to proceed. There are 170 people today on the long-term care waiting list in our community.”

Nina Picco shared that she is concerned about seniors and the way in which they navigate trips to the hospital.

“The way seniors are treated in the hospital (SAH) could bring tears to your eyes. A simple appointment for a cortisone shot spiraled into a mammoth event.” Picco brought her father to the hospital for a scheduled medical procedure.

“I did everything right.” she said.  “And yet he still had to wait for far too long based on his ability to stay seated in a wheelchair. He started to shake and cry because of the pain he was in. He was supposedly first on the list.” Picco stated that several requests from her to SAH staff to help move her father’s treatment along, or move him to a more comfortable space to wait for treatment were not considered. After two hours of repeated pleas (to staff), I said – ‘That’s it – we’re out of here’.” Eventually, Picco and her father were taken to an empty bed in the endoscopy waiting area, where she stated they waited for another hour. “They just didn’t bother to make the effort until I started to wheel my dad out of there. All that time, he could have been resting there – on a bed – He wasn’t taking up a bed that was needed for someone else – It was very upsetting, knowing that he could have been taken there earlier, but wasn’t, until I started to leave with him.”

Cyndi Boston-Cloutier spoke about her journey through long-term care with her 84 year old mother, who was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. Three years ago, her mother was moved from Great Northern Retirement Residence to Extendicare Mapleview without her prior knowledge. She stated that she sees the local long-term care system having gone beyond critical to pathetic.

“It is appalling, painful and extremely expensive. Both our provincial and federal government(s) should be ashamed for the lack of stimulation for those residents living in long-term care environments.  It’s ‘place and pray for them’. God bless those LTC residents who do not have family or friends looking out for them.” she said.

The video below shares a portion of Cyndi Boston-Cloutier’s presentation to the forum. Boston-Cloutier’s appeal to long-term care advocates included private investigations into the day-to-day operations of long-term care homes, and what, if any, meaningful pro-active activities take place to maintain, sustain and stimulate cognitive and physical functions for residents.

Skip Morrison stated that the continuing privatization of the health care and long-term care systems are creating ‘industries’ rather than services. “There is a bottle neck in delivery of essential health care services. Some of our politicians want the simplest solution, which is to stream-line the health care delivery system by introducing privatization.” Morrison went on to say that public health care is what Canadians deserve and expect to ensure fairness in all sectors.

Panelists for the evening were:

Tara Maszczakiewicz, an executive Board Member for OPSEU Employees Region 6, a registered Social Worker and OPSEU President Local 684.

Sharon Richer, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.

Susan McCooeye – retired after 35 years with the Ontario government. Currently chair of Seniors Health Advisory Committee, member of Algoma Family Council Coalition, Northeast Family Council Network, and Seniors Rights Protection Committee.

Margo Dale, co-chair of the Sault and Area Health Coalition since 2015.  To learn more about the Ontario Health Coalition and the Sault & Area Health Coalition go here:

Margo Dale can be reached at: 705-254-2885 or email


  1. Thank you to Tony for slightly pulling back the veil of secrecy that hides the realities of the terrible conditions that many in this community must endure in their dealings with the Health Care system – Hospital, Long-Term Care, Home Care and Mental Health.

    At the hospital:
    *87-year-old Mary who has both heart problems and has had mini stroke had a feeling of the blood actually flowing in her head. Her left arm was numb. She was brought to the hospital by ambulance, taken off the stretcher, walked to waiting area where over 30 people were waiting.

    *Patients are hungry because they can’t reach the tray, sometimes because they are hooked up to machines, other times because they are too frail. Because of decreased staff, the food delivery people only have minutes to deliver all the trays on a floor.

    *Woman who was very distraught because she had been sexually assaulted was left in the
    crowded waiting room of the ER

    *Rickey went for a prostrate biopsy at the hospital. He contacted sepsis (blood poisoning) &
    nearly died. SAH has a bad reputation for infections. There is a shortage of cleaning staff.

    *Tammy’s father was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Tammy’s mother, the primary
    caregiver for her husband who has advanced Alzheimer’s was put in the hospital with an acute
    cardiac event. They had been getting 3 hours of Home Care a day. Tammy got a call at work
    saying the hospital was discharging him. When the daughter asked how they were supposed to
    manage, the answer was “You will just have to find a way.”

    *A family took their father to the hospital with Parkinson’s disease and concerns that their father hadn’t been going to the bathroom. There was only 1 doctor at night. They waited from 9:30 at night until 5:30 AM. For the doctor to see him. They waited 10 hrs before putting in a catheter. By then the father was septic and needed extended hospital care.

    *Mary had hernia surgery at SAH. Plastic mesh was used and it was infected 2 days later. After close to 14 months, she still had an open wound in her lower abdomen. She had to have nurses coming to her home every 2 days to irrigate the “hole” and apply a new dressing. She went to a wound clinic at SAH every two weeks to have the mesh pulled through the hole and one or two pieces of it cut off. This was very painful, as the mesh was still attached to her insides. There were many days when the drainage started to smell very bad. She can hardly stand the smell herself and she wondered what others could smell.

    Head Injury: One man told me he waited 5 years to get a proper diagnosis only to have to wait 10 months to get into a program to start to address the problem.

    Long-Term Care:
    *There is a 3-year wait list & some needy people aren’t even put on the list.
    *Medications have been administered without the doctor’s knowledge.
    *There is rationing of needed supplies like incontinence products, rubber gloves and cleaning
    supplies. That means that residents must pay extra or stay in soiled “briefs”.
    *Residents don’t have scheduled showers because of insufficient numbers of staff.
    *Residents are waiting 45 minutes to be taken off the toilet, 30 minutes for the call bell to be
    *Medications-After the cost for staying at a Long-Term facility, some residents are left with $25
    per month to pay for toiletries, their portion of the meds, clothes.
    *Some residents are forced to stay in facilities where their income only covers part of the costs.
    Family must pay or the person doesn’t get the services.

    Home Care:
    *Families are waiting over a year for a Health Care Plan
    *Families are waiting for months to get the equipment that the Health Plan says they need.
    *There is insufficient monitoring of the quality of work that goes into the installation of health
    equipment put in the homes.
    *Family members are asked to do procedures far beyond their training.
    *The number of hours given per week isn’t enough.
    *Even though 39 cents of every dollar is spent on administering Home Care, there is very little
    coordination of services.
    *When trained Home Care workers calculate their wages and deduct vehicle expenses, many
    get paid slightly above minimum wage with no Health Benefits.

    Mental Health:
    -the youth crisis line goes to SAH where they will hear a recording stating that they will get a call
    back within 24 hours
    -currently, more than 40 children are on Algoma Family Services’ list for mental health services
    -When crisis intervention was called, the suggestion was to go to the hospital for admission and detox. She was refused 8 times -told that they have “real” sick people to attend to. She died.

    *Testing-when a woman went to the lab for blood tests, she was told it would cost her $320. She
    had to figure out whether she could afford it because she lives on a fixed income.
    *Woman waiting 14 months for a Cystoscopy

    Thank you as well for the insight into the basic causes. At the very least, privatization must be stopped. All moneys need to go to direct patient care not to the profits of business owners.
    There must be minimum standard laws which are enacted and enforced at the hospitals, long-term care facilities and concerning home-care. The proper & timely treatment of mental health issues are long overdo.

    Lynne Brown, in Sault Online editorials, has been instrumental in exposing the experiences that have been described to her. I have received many calls from people who are afraid of the repercussions if they come forward themselves but will share their experiences with me so I can make them known. More people must come forward and make their voices heard by telling of their experiences or by attending meetings to show the politicians that we insist on change.

    We will be holding an All-Candidates’ meeting before Sault Ste. Marie’s By-Election. Then we will publicize the Health Care platforms of the political parties. Make sure to vote for the party that has the Health Care Platform that could result in the quality in our Health Care System in Sault Ste. Marie & Ontario that we deserve.

    We are determined to fight for and insist on improvements especially since we know that there are many proven promising practices that are available at affordable costs. We won’t, we can’t put up with this current health care system. There is no quality, no compassion, no respect for residents/patients/workers and no dignity given. Without major improvements, our family members, friends and one day we ourselves will face these very situations.

    Margo Dale
    Sault Ste. Marie & Area Health Coalition 705 254 2885

  2. It certainly didn’t take CCAC /SAH long to mess Cedarwood up.. these investigations seem to have started from the moment they ‘re-opened’ the doors. How can any executive justify a ‘starting’ salary of over 300+ thousand dollars per year.. & not be able to effectively factor in 20 dollars per hour to change the urine soaked sheets of our loved ones.?

    Let’s not forget that the Davey Home & Tendercare were both being investigated.. found, fined & closed as the ‘solution’ to avoid fines for 5 non-compliance issues. Our ‘conveniently quit’ Member of Parliament handed these same people 40 million dollars to re-open a new facility.

    While CCAC picked-up a multi-million dollar mandate to re-open those 50 beds they continued right along the same path accumulating five times the complaints in less then one year.. CCAC & Sault Area Hospital have allot to be ashamed of.

    We have/had one client who was dropped into our building by CCAC & they couldn’t brag it up enough about how sensitive they are to their clients needs.

    They signed the ‘chart’ every day & had an entire brigade of ‘workers’ flying in and out of that room claiming to be doing these ‘great things..’ we opened the door a couple of weeks ago because this man was screaming for help & we found this poor individual had been left lying in his own feces and urine soaked clothes for over a year.

    He was taken to the hospital & Service Master refused to send their employees in to clean it up.. the room has been pretty much ‘condemned’. CCAC had the nerve to call the property owner and asked if they could place another client in there once the unit was renovated.

    These people are sociopaths in the truest sense of the word.. we can’t blame this on bad nurses or incompetent volunteers, this is a ‘Criminal Neglect’ a wilful maleficence & corporate stench implemented at an administrative level.

    It’s not enough to allow them to blame it on ‘Staff Shortages’ or evil Ministry regulations.. these are Executive Officers making sure they get ‘their’ cut first. Firing staff & manipulating administrative costs to ensure their yearly ‘performance bonus’. Tweaking the ‘co-pay’ & selecting the wealthiest applicants first to secure their own positions at the proverbial ‘trough’.

    Seems like SAH and CCAC give themselves an ‘Award’ every time some one files a complaint. This is a ‘Big-Red’ warning flag for us all.. we need public inquiries for clients inside & outside of Sault Area Hospital and a comprehensive audit of CCAC’s activities in the community.

    If the ‘Executives’ of a corporation can not be held responsible or liable for the direction of the corporation.. then who is.?

Comments are closed.