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No appropriate space for senior

Facilities dealing with violent patients full

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When word got out a senior with Alzheimer's disease was being held in the Winnipeg Remand Centre for assaulting his wife, authorities acted quickly to move him.

"It didn't seem an appropriate facility for someone with that diagnosis," Joanne DiNicola testified at the inquest into the March 2011 death of a Parkview Place resident where Joe McLeod was admitted.

Parkview Place wasn't appropriate either, says the family of the late Frank Alexander and nurse Heidi Williams, who testified earlier a frustrated and confused McLeod chased and beat nursing home staff.

On Wednesday, the inquest into Alexander's death heard there is no appropriate place readily available for a dementia patient with aggressive behaviour whose family can no longer care for them.

There are three such facilities in Winnipeg, but they all have lengthy waiting lists, said DiNicola, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's manager of personal care home initiatives. She told the inquest there are 15 behavioural unit beds at Riverview Health Centre, 11 beds at Deer Lodge and nine at Taché Centre in St. Boniface.

"Is the bottom line that the WRHA needs a significantly larger number of behavioural unit beds?" Bill Gange, the lawyer for the Alexander family, asked DiNicola.

"It would be a very helpful resource," said DiNicola. Alexander died in March 2011 from head trauma after being pushed to the floor by McLeod.

The retired railway worker with dementia had been living with his wife, Rose. In the fall of 2010, McLeod didn't recognize his wife and he struck and seriously injured her. She was hospitalized.

Their family wasn't prepared to take care of McLeod. He was held in the medical unit of the remand centre.

The provincial Liberals issued a news release about McLeod being in jail and DiNicola received an email from her boss, Réal Cloutier, the WRHA's vice-president of long-term care, asking about McLeod.

DiNicola, who was the transition manager of the WRHA's long-term care access centre at the time, checked the database and saw the senior had once received home care but had never been panelled to get into a personal care home. Soon after, McLeod was assessed as eligible for a care home and admitted by Parkview Place.

McLeod was transferred from the remand centre to the downtown care home on Oct. 8, 2010.

"Other than the fact he was in the remand centre, I don't hear a crisis of any sort with respect to his treatment," Gange told DiNicola. "The crisis is there was a media frenzy with what was taking place with Mr. McLeod."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 17, 2014 B3

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