“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 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 here:health.gov.on.ca
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: www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca
Margo Dale can be reached at: 705-254-2885 or email email@example.com.