Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Widow details husband's woes at Deer Lodge

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MAUREEN Anderson attended a memorial service at Deer Lodge Centre Wednesday for patients like her husband Chuck, 77, who died there.

She was returning to the centre where her complaints about its quality of care helped spark an official review.

"I'll probably get shot and dropped down the elevator shaft," she joked.

In February, the review began to look at the quality of care in the 44-bed unit called Lodge 6 in the previous 18 months. Letters about the review were sent Feb. 29 to patients and their families.

"With this situation, there were common themes arising from the families that triggered this," said Real Cloutier, Deer Lodge Centre's chief operating officer. He said the themes included "inconsistencies in following the care plan for patients and staff being respectful in their communication with families."

Anderson went to live in Lodge 6 in 2009.

"My husband was a tough guy -- he boxed," said Maureen his widow. He wanted to be independent but required chronic care and a feeding tube after a series of strokes. Glaucoma took his eyesight and he started having hallucinations, she said.

"He wasn't like this. This was the last thing he wanted," Anderson said. Some of the treatment and comments he received at Deer Lodge were humiliating, she said.

"I came off the elevator and heard a staff member, not a nurse, calling down the hall that Chuck had soiled himself again and for someone to help her change him."

Chuck heard it too, she said.

"When I got to his room he said, 'That's really nice. That ought to make me feel important.' They really hurt him. He was embarrassed and hurt." They were married 32 years and last summer renewed their vows at Deer Lodge, she said.

"He was my soulmate."

It wasn't just his feelings that were hurt, she said. Care plans weren't followed and call bells went unanswered, Anderson said.

In December, Chuck's care plan wasn't followed and the outcome was deadly.

He was left unattended in the bathroom and fell.

"He was throwing up and it went into his lungs -- he aspirated into his lungs," his widow said.

He was treated with antibiotics but it was too late, she said. He got double pneumonia and his health went down.

"He started swelling and was all black and blue and looked like he had been in a war," Anderson said.

He died Jan. 13.

There is a long list of his widow's complaints in his file: "Wife concerned about this, wife concerned about that," said Anderson. She's glad she voiced her concerns.

"I knew he'd have been worse just sitting there."

The 69 year-old uses a walker and took Handi-Transit and cabs to visit her husband every couple of days, she said. She worried about patients who had no one to complain for them.

"There are people on that floor paralyzed and nobody comes," Anderson said. She didn't mince words about her concerns.

"Who checks to see if they've got a rash from poop dried on their diaper?" That happened with her husband several times, she said.

She's glad the review is being done and hopes the situation improves.

It already has, Cloutier said.

"We're at the point where we have a stable situation," he said Wednesday.

New management took over the unit in February.

Cloutier said 17 families and one patient took part in quality-of-care review surveys and interviews.

Interviews were also conducted with 37 employees who work in the unit, he said.

"We're at the stage where we're able to move forward and address those issues, now that we know what the issues are," he said.

The situation in Lodge 6 was "unique" at the hospital, which has 431 patients, he said.

This week, they're setting up meetings to discuss the findings of the review with the patients' families, Cloutier said.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2012 B1

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