Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hospital bends to senior's home-care needs

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SEVEN Oaks General Hospital will now provide the help an elderly patient needs -- after sending her home alone without home care.

By Friday, Elvira Umbach can expect the hospital to send someone three times a day to ensure she takes her prescriptions and to provide light housekeeping.

"I am feeling so relieved. It's a load off; now I can function," Umbach's daughter, Esther Kafka, said from Windsor, Ont.

Kafka filed a formal complaint with Seven Oaks after the hospital sent her mother home Feb. 12 without the home care of an aide to help her.

The 78-year-old woman had been admitted Jan. 24 after suffering a heart attack.

Umbach couldn't look after herself because she's often confused and probably has a form of dementia that's never been diagnosed, her daughter said.

Kafka's father, Heinz Umbach, 86, is himself in hospital at the Victoria General Hospital, recovering from a near-fatal collapse in January.

Four days before the collapse, the elderly man had also been sent home from Seven Oaks, at 6 a.m. in the dark in a cab, wearing clothes wet with sweat.

His condition improves daily at the Victoria and he's expected to be transferred to Riverview Health Centre or Deer Lodge this week for rehabilitation. But until her father can go home, which looks promising, her mother is alone, Kafka said.

The turning point came Wednesday afternoon with two calls.

The first was from a senior executive with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, the second from Seven Oaks' chief medical officer.

The Seven Oaks doctor "was very compassionate... And I felt he was genuinely concerned. He came up with some very helpful suggestions to help my mother.

"I'm very happy she is going to get someone in to assist her with her meds three times a day. They're also providing light housekeeping to lessen the burden," Kafka said.

Umbach's two daughters live out of the province, and between the two, they spent nearly a month in Winnipeg after their father's collapse and their mother's heart attack this winter. But they eventually had to go back to their own homes.

The Umbachs have one son who lives in Winnipeg but he's unable to provide the care his mother needs.

Kafka said she's returning to Winnipeg next month to help her father with the transition from rehabilitation back home.

And she's very grateful right now.

"I'm so happy the community of Winnipeg has come together to address our family's concerns and the help that's required for my mother," Kafka said.

The WRHA released a statement saying it had been in touch with the family but couldn't confirm home care or other plans, because of patient privacy laws.

"A representative of Seven Oaks has been in contact with Ms. Kafka, apologized to her for not keeping her as informed as she wanted... A meeting has been set for mid-March when Ms. Kafka will be back in town to further discuss her issues. In the interim, the geriatric assessment program team and the home care program have been asked to review Ms. Umbach's case," the WRHA said in a statement Wednesday.

alexandra.paul@freeepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 21, 2013 B1

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