Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hospital decision frustrates daughter

Upset Seven Oaks sent elderly mother home

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In the days since Seven Oaks General Hospital sent an elderly, confused heart patient home, Elvira Umbach nearly started a fire when a kettle burned dry and later called the police over a security guard her son hired to ensure her safety.

"My worst fear is she is going to have another heart attack and there will be no one there for her," Umbach's distraught daughter, Esther Kafka, said Tuesday from her home in Windsor, Ont.

Kafka said the 78-year-old can't function alone. Monday, her mother described the city's weather as a warm 70 F over the phone.

The daughter can't understand why the hospital sent her elderly mother home in a confused state.

"I don't get it. I really don't get it. It's almost like they're choosing to ignore it because they wanted to discharge my mother, because they needed the bed," Kafka said.

Four days before her mother was sent home Feb. 12, Kafka recounted a call from the hospital that her mother should go home because Seven Oaks needed her bed.

Desperate for better care for her mother, Kafka filed a formal complaint with Seven Oaks by registered mail Tuesday.

It's a three-page letter that chronicles her mother's and her father's recent stays at Seven Oaks.

The complaint comes on the heels of a judicial inquest called last week into the death of Heather Brenan.

That inquest will examine the strain the "silver tsunami" of aging Manitobans puts on health care.

The couple's MLA, NDP cabinet minister Gord Mackintosh, acknowledged he's aware of the Umbach case -- Kafka copied him on the complaint.

"I read the letter today and find the account very troubling. I've referred this to the Health Minister and I'm heartened that her office immediately began following up with the family," Mackintosh said in a statement.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority responded that the hospital will be calling Kafka.

"Seven Oaks is in the process of pulling the chart and will be contacting the daughter today to apologize to her for not keeping the family as informed as they would have liked, and to make arrangements to set up a meeting to discuss the family's concerns and next steps," WRHA spokeswoman Heidi Graham said.

When the call comes, Kafka wants some answers.

"This is my frustration. We made it perfectly clear to the charge nurse my mom could not be released without home care," Kafka said.

The parents have one son in Winnipeg but he's unable to provide the care the mother needs, Kafka said.

Kafka also questioned her father's discharge last month from the same hospital.

"Our 86-year-old father, who is legally blind, was sent home by cab in the dark at 6 a.m. with clothes that were wet from his sweat on a morning when (it) was -35 with the wind chill.

"Four days later he was brought (back) and put on life-support," she said.

Seven Oaks didn't have any beds, Kafka said the family was informed. The hospital transferred the elderly man to Victoria General Hospital where the family has nothing but praise for his care.

Two days later, Jan. 24, their mother suffered a heart attack and she, too, was brought by ambulance to Seven Oaks, the hospital nearest the home the couple have shared for 40 years.

Kafka's father is still recovering from a nearly fatal collapse that put him on life-support in intensive care for days.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 20, 2013 B2


Updated on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 10:46 AM CST: replaces photo

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