The extended family of a local resident of Columbia House feels that the resident is being denied some of her rights.
Columbia House resident Jean Wilder was first given a bed at Columbia House in February after she had been in and out of hospital due to surgery. Her daughter, Trina Wilder, and boyfriend Marc Normand initially had no problems visiting and taking Jean out for short periods of time.
Shortly after, Normand and Trina entered discussions with staff at Columbia House regarding Jean’s financial status and the status of her account. As Trina was unable, Marc decided to take on temporary power of attorney for Jean in order to deal with her finances.
This is where the trouble begins, according to the family. Normand says that upon asking for a breakdown of Jean’s account and medication list earlier this month, he was refused access to that information by staff. He says staff said that they were unable to release that information because there were no administrators present.
“We just don’t understand why we were denied access,” Normand said. “We’re her family.”
When asked, Regional Director for Residential Services for Interior Health Karen Bloemink, while unable to comment on specific situations due to resident privacy, offered the following explanation.
“Interior Health has a duty to protect the private medical information of anyone that is in our care,” she said. “The decision not to share medical information would be based on the freedom of information and protection of privacy act, as well as the adult guardianship act. I would really like to assure you that this resident is receiving good care at Columbia House.”
Normand attempted to convince staff at Columbia House that he was in fact legally able to view her information, but to no avail. As the shift was drawing to a close, a mutual agreement was made to have the RCMP involved to take an incident report.
Several days later, Normand and Trina attempted to get Jean to tell them which medications she was currently taking, based on an older chart of hers, when staff interjected.
Normand says that despite Jean telling staff at Columbia House that he had permission to access that information, the staff refused to do so without an administrator present. RCMP were called again, however this time on behalf of Columbia House, and the family felt they should leave or face possible police action.
Later that evening, the family returned to Columbia House to visit, when they were again asked to leave by staff as bedtime was approaching for the residents.
RCMP were again called to advise the family to leave, and RCMP told them shortly after that they could be recommended for mischief or disturbance charges.
The next day the locks on the home were changed and the family was denied access, and told that a doctor had ordered Jean to stay in.
“We have an investigation going on related to this resident’s personal safety,” Bloemink responded when asked why RCMP were called.
“I can confirm that there have been times when the staff at Columbia House felt it was necessary to call the RCMP, but I can’t give you details. We have a duty to make sure that we’re providing a safe and secure care delivery environment for this resident and the other residents that live there.”
Family say they have since met with site administrators, but don’t feel the talks have been productive.
After negotiations, direct family members were again allowed access, however family friends were not. As such, the family has now decided to withdraw Jean from care at Columbia House and return her to her home, as they feel her rights have been violated by staff not allowing her to come and go as she pleased. They also feel staff have acted inappropriately throughout the entire situation.
“We’re done with this,” Normand said. “She wants out, so we intend on fulfilling her wishes.”
“Where Interior Health has questions around the overall safety and security of a resident, we are required to follow the legal steps that are contained in the adult guardianship legislation,” Bloemink explained. “I can’t get into specifics with this individual, but the way we are managing this situation will be specifically according to what we are required to do based on the provincial adult guardianship legislation.”