Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Lack of beds a factor in Sinclair's death

Waiting list for personal care homes creates hospital logjam

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Brian Sinclair died in a packed waiting room because there were too many patients in emergency for whom there was no hospital bed available, an inquiry heard Monday.

Lori Lamont, vice-president and chief nursing officer of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, said a major reason for the logjam is there are few personal care home beds for patients who no longer need acute care in hospital.

Lamont said that's why the province has approved funding to build two new personal care homes with 120 beds apiece.

Lamont said another 60 beds will open about the same time when a renovation and expansion at an existing facility is completed.

"There are 80 or so in acute-care beds now and 100 are on our waiting list... at home living with home care and some family support," Lamont said.

She said the facilities should open in two years.

Sinclair, 45, a double amputee who used a wheelchair, went to Health Sciences Centre on Sept. 19, 2008, and was pronounced dead 34 hours later after being discovered non-triaged in the ER waiting room.

Sinclair died of a bladder infection caused by a blocked urinary catheter.

An autopsy found Sinclair could have died in the waiting room two to seven hours before he was found.

Lamont said the WRHA is speaking with the province about building more facilities to meet the continuing demand.

She said of the 36 personal care homes in the city, three are operated by the WRHA while the rest are funded by the WRHA, but are either not-for-profit or corporate.

Lamont said studies show the demand for personal care home beds will continue to grow until 2036 and then "drop off dramatically."

"Until then, we've projected we need five new facilities in relatively short order and one new one per year until we get to 2036."

Lamont said after that, several of the current facilities will have reached the end of their life span and will be closed.

She said because the average stay in a personal care home is about three years, about one-third of beds open annually.

Meanwhile, Dr. Catherine Cook, the WRHA's vice-president of population and aboriginal health, was asked by WRHA lawyer Bill Olson whether her employment with the WRHA prevented her from stating her opinions on how aboriginal patients are treated.

Cook responded by saying she is Métis, her husband is First Nation, as well as her children and grandchildren.

"I've been very aware of systemic racism since I was a teenager," she said.

"When I first graduated from medicine I became aware... it's still a real eye opener how discriminated some communities are. I don't just mean health care, but also education and all the services that make you healthy and well."

The inquest continues.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 25, 2014 A4

History

Updated on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 9:54 AM CST: adds live blog

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