THE Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is investigating a complaint from a woman who says her 98-year-old mother was improperly deprived of food and water for 14 days in hospital.
Rozalynde McKibbin says her mother was malnourished for two weeks and left without a bath for 36 days before she died at Seven Oaks Hospital two years ago.
"Representatives of Seven Oaks and the region are hoping to meet with Ms. McKibbin when the review is finished to discuss her concerns with her," WRHA spokeswoman Heidi Graham said.
Anne Rostecki, 98, died Aug. 31, 2009, 45 days after she was admitted, the apparent victim of a stroke that had sent her from home to hospital seeking medical attention.
"We want to alert the public to watch out. If they have to go into hospital or their mothers or grandmothers have to go into hospital, don't believe what you're being told," McKibbin warned Thursday.
At first, McKibbin said, she and her brother, Randy Rostecki, believed staff at Seven Oaks Hospital were caring professionals.
Three days after the elderly woman was admitted, however, she accidently swallowed some food and it lodged in her lungs.
"They had to pump out her lungs and that's when the problems, the starvation, began," McKibbin said, saying medical staff concluded her mother's ability to swallow was impaired and she could not eat solid food any longer.
The adult children said they believed hospital staff would then insert a feeding tube, but, on their daily visits, they noticed their mother was steadily losing weight.
"Around day 10 or 11, I said to my brother, 'Look something's wrong with her. Look at how skinny Mom is getting. Her cheekbones are sticking out, her collarbones are sticking out and the bones in her forehead. They are sticking out like horns," McKibbin said. "You know the ones. Above where the eyes are," she said.
A flurry of complaints followed, including at least one meeting with the patient-care team manager, and a feeding tube was inserted.
"She was hanging in there, the best she could," McKibbin said of her mother's condition.
There were other problems. The family claims the elderly woman was not bathed until 36 days after she was admitted. They claim a bedsore on her tailbone was allowed to putrefy until it was black and gangrenous.
After her death, the family pressed their complaints in letters and meetings with the WRHA and obtained Rostecki's medical records.
McKibbin said she was shocked when the records appeared to document the malnourishment and lack of hygienic care in her mother's medical chart. It shattered her faith in the city's hospitals.
The authority, meanwhile, offered two independent investigations by senior doctors, both of which McKibbin said she rejected outright.
"That's not an independent investigation, using your own doctors," McKibbin said Thursday.
She said Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard reviewed the case as well and helped her draft letters to health officials.
Only a public admission of negligence will satisfy her now.