Since 57-year-old Ronald Wilderman died 10 months ago, his family has been on a mission to find out how he died when he was supposed to have an agency hired by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority looking out for him.

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Since 57-year-old Ronald Wilderman died 10 months ago, his family has been on a mission to find out how he died when he was supposed to have an agency hired by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority looking out for him.

He was found dead in his apartment on May 31 from complications arising from his diabetes. Teskey & Associates had been contracted by the health authority to make sure the diabetic with autism spectrum disorder was taking his oral medication and eating properly.

Submitted</p><p>Ronald Wilderman with his bulldog Cindy.</p>

Submitted

Ronald Wilderman with his bulldog Cindy.

"The best I can figure is he was not seen for four days," said his sister, Elizabeth Rosenberg, with a stack of paperwork from FIPPA (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy) and PHIA (Personal Health Information Act) requests she's filed in her search for answers.

Harris Teskey, president of Teskey & Associates, said he couldn't comment on the case because of "privacy legislation and contractual obligations" but said several statements that have been made about it "are not factually accurate."

Wilderman's family wants to know if the man was actually receiving the care he was supposed to be getting, said Rosenberg. It's too late for their loved one who was so knowledgeable about politics, sports and statistics and loving towards his bulldog Cindy, but totally lacking in social skills and incapable of taking care of himself, she said.

"He was extremely difficult to care for," said Rosenberg. He had hoarding issues, anger issues, Asperger syndrome and diabetes but wouldn't eat properly, she said. For years the family — their mom especially — struggled to find a place for Wilderman.

"Ronald didn't fit into any of the boxes," said his sister. "He didn't do well in groups settings (and) he couldn't live on his own.

"Nothing is going to change the outcome for my brother," said Rosenberg. "We as a family are gravely concerned about other individuals. We just want to ensure people are getting care."

She wants the WRHA to check that vulnerable adults are getting their meds and fed and not just take the agencies at their word that they are providing care. "There was no audit — no checking up on it."

Teskey & Associates is one of about 40 agencies the WRHA has "special care contracts" with to help to about 300 adults, said Real Cloutier, WRHA vice-president.

"Some of these people have had previous bouts of homelessness and involvement with the justice system," said Cloutier.

The health authority is conducting an internal audit of Teskey & Associates and not referring any new cases to it until the review is in completed.

Wilderman's death wasn't the only tragedy that prompted the review, he said.

"After the two incidents involving the fires, we started looking at internal processes," said Cloutier. Residential fires in October 2014 and March 2015 were linked to clients the WRHA had contracted with Teskey & Associates to look out for.

The health authority is now reviewing the way it handles contract arrangements with all of the agencies and making service purchase agreements "more specific," Cloutier said.

Wilderman's association with Teskey & Associates occurred after he was evicted from his home and living on the streets. His family was advised to get an order of committeeship to have the Public Guardian & Trustee take responsibility for him so he could get the special help he needed, said Rosenberg.

"They can live in the community but need somebody there to help them and support them," Cloutier said.

They need a supportive environment but personal care homes may not be the right place for them, he said. "You have to be careful. Some institutional environments could be completely inappropriate for this population," said Cloutier.

"A lot of times, it's keeping a roof over their heads and keeping people out who shouldn't be coming into the area."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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