BY ERIN FAWCETT
Wildrose Lacombe – Ponoka MLA Ron Orr is calling on the NDP government to take action after three staff on the long-term care unit at the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre were put on leave following an investigation that saw serious breaches in terms of care.
“These are serious issues and as the person who delivered it to us felt, they were shocked and thought the public needed to know,” said Orr.
“Our objective is not to make things worse at the hospital or to try and blame anybody. We want to try and see this whole thing fixed and we want to see the hospital to be a safe place for residents and a happy place for family members to have their residents and quite frankly a safe and happy place for staff to work. I don’t think this is caused by staff directly. This is caused by the long-term and systemic issues of Alberta Health Services and particularly the funding that has been so well detailed for all of Central Alberta where we receive substantially less funding then other places.
“As a result, staff are short, equipment is short, maintenance issues are not dealt with, supplies are not provided and the staff are doing the best they can with a very, very difficult situation.
“It needs to come to light so Alberta Health Services can’t just whitewash it and make it all go away.”
He added the Auditor General report for both 2014 and again in 2016 reads, “Seniors in long-term care facilities: We recommend that the Department of Health clearly define, and separate the role and responsibilities from those of AHS in monitoring and managing long-term care service delivery.”
It also reads, “Improve public reporting on what results the provincial long-term care system is expected to achieve and whether it is achieving them.”
Orr added this has been a long-standing issue.
“Even the Auditor General has flagged it. It’s something that needs to happen,” he said. “If these things had been done, we may not be in the situation we are at the long-term care facility (in Lacombe).”
Leaked documents earlier this week show a system in flux at the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre (LHCC) and brought to light serious concerns about the level of care provided at the facility.
The documents outline an investigation that was launched in April as a result of, “Serious concerns raised about care quality at the site” brought forward by Red Deer College practical nurse students who were completing their practicums at the facility in March.
Serious breaches that were found as a result of the investigation include expired aseptic sterile supplies like catheters; soiled linen and garbage overflowing into hallways; slings being used communally without a clear, consistent cleaning process; medication left unsecured, unlabeled, unattended; lack of proper training in medication management and assistance (for those managing medication); lack of proper training in dementia care (for those assisting clients with dementia) and lack of proper training in risk management, fall prevention, CPR, palliative/end-of-life care, safe lifts, restraints and bathing.
As the documents outline, a formal report is pending.
“There are serious failings at the LHCC that must be addressed in order for faith to be restored in our health care system,” said Orr. “Patients and their loved ones have seen inadequate levels of care that are simply unacceptable, and that must change. Wildrose will hold the NDP government to account to ensure that significant problems found in the initial investigation are fixed.”
Wildrose spoke to concerned residents in Lacombe about the findings of the initial investigation.
Lois Cookson’s 89-year-old stepfather was a patient at LHCC and she said that, “He was dying before our eyes in the Lacombe Hospital” with problems that included incorrect testing, filing of testing under the wrong patient’s name and providing the wrong antibiotic.
In a statement to the media, AHS said they have taken significant action to ensure safe, effective care continues to be provided to long term care residents at the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre.
This follows a review at the long-term care centre by AHS, as well as an audit of continuing care health service and accommodation standards by both AHS and Alberta Health.
The review and audit also found areas where staff training was deficient including in the areas of wound care and management, infection prevention and control, restraint use and management, safe lifts and transfers, dementia care and palliative and end of life care.
AHS has developed an implementation plan to address all the recommendations, officials said.
“Our first concern is for the residents living in the Lacombe long-term care facility,” said Brenda Huband, vice-president and chief health operations officer for Central and Southern Alberta. “We take these concerns very seriously and we responded quickly with our investigation and audits with support from Alberta Health.”
She added actions taken at the site include thorough health assessments of all 75 residents; physiotherapy and falls risk assessments on all residents; a thorough cleaning of the site including resident care areas, medication rooms, medication carts and tub rooms, with support and guidance from infection prevention and control professionals; improved communication between caregivers and residents/families and between caregivers; the introduction of two-day education sessions for all long-term care staff to ensure they understand, principles of resident and family-centered care, health service and accommodation standards for continuing care and working with stakeholders to introduce a resident and family council that can meet regularly to ensure high quality care is maintained.
The AHS review of the site concluded last week and highlights the need to shift from a more traditional long-term care approach to a more resident and family-focused care model, officials have said.
AHS has met with residents, families, local stakeholders and community leaders to advise them of the investigation and to provide information on steps that had already been taken. Each resident’s primary care physician has also been involved.