Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A mentally ill Edmonton woman’s family is claiming she jumped to her death from the seventh floor of the Chateau Lacombe after being turned away at Alberta Hospital. And the family says in a recent $753,000 lawsuit against the province that it was the third time she was refused admittance at a psychiatric facility — despite her clear need for treatment — and sent away in a taxi. In a statement of claim filed in court on Feb. 19, the daughter, parents and brother of Janette Peterson allege she was a diagnosed psychiatric patient who had been hospitalized for suicidal tendencies a number of times. The family claims she took “definite and extreme steps” to attempt suicide in February 2014 — including renting a hotel room and hiring strangers to harm her — and say that and all of her treatment records were fully available on the net care system for medical professionals to review. The family alleges that Peterson, who is diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, had twice tried to commit herself to the Royal Alexandra Hospital’s psychiatric unit for her own personal safety and she was denied admittance, provided with cab fare and told to go home.-------The family alleges the death was the result of negligence by the doctors and staff at the two hospitals for failing to admit her, failing to properly monitor her and for failing to notify the family that she had been denied admission.-- Julie Ali · University of Alberta Unfortunately the mentally ill have no voice in our society. Family members get burnt out and when there is no one advocating, the mentally ill patient can fall through the cracks in the mental health system which are very big. If you are mentally ill you don't have insight and might also refuse treatment. The role of an advocate is therefore essential. When family are not present it is the responsibility of medical staff to advocate and work in the best interests of a patient who has no insight. When the system fails, the mentally ill patient will have no one and incidents like this happen. Or you have cases where the system gets fed up and puts a "Do not resuscitate" Order on the patient. This happened to my handicapped sister. This sort of system wide failures with overburdened family taking care of mentally ill family members, a mental health system that lacks psychiatrists and failures to provide complex care plans for these patients results in tragic consequences that are fully preventable if resources, money and trained staff were allocated. It's curious to me that the death by doctor business in Alberta was provided with extra staff but mental health services don't seem to get a similar increase in funding. In my opinion, there is no damn reason for any of this junk. The GOA needs to see mental health as health --in other words as a service that must be provided. If you can provide chemotherapy for cancer you can provide mental health beds and treatment for mental health issues of citizens. The only reason why mental health is not a priority in Alberta is because of stigma, powerlessness of the afflicted and indifference. The mentally ill are discriminated against, can't speak for themselves and families are too burnt out or afraid to speak for them. Families need to do their best to speak publicly about the stress of caring for mentally ill family members, the problems in accessing psychiatric services, the lack of mental health beds and system wide failures to provide required services. This family is being very courageous and I applaud them for doing the lawsuit. It's unlikely to change the entrenched system of health bureaucrats at Alberta Health and AHS but at least this family is giving a voice to their harmed family member.


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Family of suicide victim sues Alberta Hospital for $750,000 for alleged non-admittance

Published on: February 26, 2016 | Last Updated: February 26, 2016 3:52 PM MST
A nursing station inside Building 8 at Alberta Hospital in Edmonton. File photo.
A nursing station inside Building 8 at Alberta Hospital in Edmonton. File photo. JOHN LUCAS / EDMONTON JOURNAL
A mentally ill Edmonton woman’s family is claiming she jumped to her death from the seventh floor of the Chateau Lacombe after being turned away at Alberta Hospital.
And the family says in a recent $753,000 lawsuit against the province that it was the third time she was refused admittance at a psychiatric facility — despite her clear need for treatment — and sent away in a taxi.
In a statement of claim filed in court on Feb. 19, the daughter, parents and brother of Janette Peterson allege she was a diagnosed psychiatric patient who had been hospitalized for suicidal tendencies a number of times.
The family claims she took “definite and extreme steps” to attempt suicide in February 2014 — including renting a hotel room and hiring strangers to harm her — and say that and all of her treatment records were fully available on the net care system for medical professionals to review.
The family alleges that Peterson, who is diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, had twice tried to commit herself to the Royal Alexandra Hospital’s psychiatric unit for her own personal safety and she was denied admittance, provided with cab fare and told to go home.
According to the statement of claim, Peterson posed a clear and imminent threat to herself on Feb. 22, 2014, and her daughter and a friend took her to Alberta Hospital.
The family alleges Peterson clearly presented as suicidal and likely non-compliant with her medications and the admitting nurse assured them that she would be assessed.
However, instead of assessing or admitting Peterson, the family alleges that the hospital turned her away and called her a cab.
According to the statement of claim, Peterson checked herself in at the downtown Chateau Lacombe and jumped to her death from the seventh floor on Feb. 23, 2014.
The family alleges the death was the result of negligence by the doctors and staff at the two hospitals for failing to admit her, failing to properly monitor her and for failing to notify the family that she had been denied admission.
They claim the defendants, which include Alberta Health Services, Alberta Hospital, Royal Alexandra Hospital, the admitting nurse and several doctors and staff members, have a duty to both Peterson and the general public to admit those who are suffering from mental disorders and are likely to cause harm to themselves or others.
The statement of claim also alleges that the defendants have a duty to ensure that “bed pressure” does not result in patients in demonstrable need being turned away.
Statements of defence have not yet been filed.
Statements of claim and statements of defence contain allegations which have not been proven.

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Many of us would not believe that this sort of situation would arise in our city hospitals. Unfortunately unless you have a strong advocate the fact is that the mentally ill patient may not get the help he or she needs.
No doubt the cases are not heard because the mentally ill have no voice in our society.
In this case, the family have given their mentally ill family member a voice.

But will this decision to go public change anything in the mental health system that has been in shambles for decades?

I doubt it.


Julie Ali · 
Citizens without insight and with mental health issues face many challenges in the medical and continuing care system.

The lack of basic understanding of mental health issues for example among professionals is surprising.

The mentally ill face challenges in accessing services as well as being denied services as was the case of one citizen.

http://edmontonjournal.com/.../family-of-suicide-victim...

Not only can they be denied services, they are at risk of being prematurely terminated against the personal directive requirements for full resuscitation. A "Do Not Resuscitate" order was on my handicapped sister's file for years at the Grey Nuns Hospital. Since the mentally ill citizen is so vulnerable you would expect that there be checks and balances in the system to protect them. This is not the case.

If dementia patients are second class citizens, the mentally ill are refugees without rights. Cultural change is required.
LikeReply11 hrEdited
Indiana Siobhan Inglorian
Very well said.
LikeReply14 mins
Indiana Siobhan Inglorian
You'd better thank your lucky stars that your mom doesn't have a mental health issue. Mentally ill people, if admitted to the hospital at all, are taken in for a couple of days, given a few pills and tossed unceremoneously out to live in homeless shelters or sleep by the river. I'm sorry no one was there to read or play music for your mom, but mentally ill people have been treated like crap for decades. If money is going to be spent anywhere, it should be on them, not on extracurricular things like music therapy.
UnlikeReply1May 30, 2016 2:48am
Trevor Doering · 
I know a woman who was just fired from Carewest Rouleau Manor in Calgary, demencia unit. In my opinion she was let go for being too compassionate. She took her lunch breaks and spent extra time with the patients. Coaxing them out of their rooms with extra cigarettes, to have showers. Sometimes patients would go two weeks refusing to shower. The unit would smell. The final straw was when she took a lunch break to go buy cigarettes for a patient who was becoming agitated and had a history of violence. The recreational aid wasn't available, so she took matters into her own hands. She admitted to her superiors what she did and was fired. They accused her of having a relationship with the patient. I don't think giving a little bit extra time should be considered wrong. Other health care aids would be constantly on their cell phones and one was caught sleeping at work. They were only warned and not fired. When this woman worked the units were calm. When she didn't work, the units were bedlam. She feels other workers didn't like that her because when she worked, things went well on the unit. She did a good job and the patients family loved her. Drugging up these people is not what's needed. Compassion is what's needed. A patient's family member seen this woman in a mall shortly after and asked why she no longer worked there. After she explained the relative of the patient said that Carewest Rouleau Manor, always seems to get rid of the good ones.
UnlikeReply3May 6, 2016 6:54pm
Trevor Doering · 
Susan Macaulay Thank you for sharing that link.
LikeReply1May 10, 2016 5:45pm
Susan Macaulay · 
Trevor Doering YW and I've shared your story on one of my FB pages here: https://www.facebook.com/peopleforpersoncentereddemen.../... and will also share it on LinkedIn. Keep up the good work!
LikeReplyMay 11, 2016 6:01am

Arthur Dear · 
Excellent article. Historically the Alberta government has acted from an ageist and discriminatory perspective. It starts with the mandatory screening of all drivers at age seventy five for dementia using the widely discredited Simard MD test ( a test actually developed from one published in German ladies magazines as an at home screen). This test, http://www.criticisingsimardmd.net and others administered to symptomless patients is the unjustified, immoral beginning of a "witch hunt" professing to "protect" society.

Patients, with little respect for their wishes, rapidly lose most of their personal rights and end up wearhoused in locked facilities, are evaluated and classified by an impersonal,overly complex, categorization process loosely called the MDS or RYE system that even most nurses poorly understand, get rapidly put into diapers which are then changed on schedules rather than need, are fed almost exclusively prepared "foods", mush, Loaded with preservatives, delivered by a national manufacturer and microwaved for consumption. Stuff so bad I wouldn't feed it to my dog. Sleep and daily meal schedules are arranged such that patients start getting pulled out of bed and propped in wheel chairs at 5am so they can all be up for a fixed feeding time at 8am. And on and on. Baths? Two a week? Hahaha. Give me a break. Not enough staff so patients are " talked into preferring a sponge). AHS conducts regular "Audits" to ensure standard are met but lead nurses always know in advance. There are essentially no real surprise audits or evening or night shift ones. Designated MDS "super users' prepare for weeks making sure things are " good enough" to pass. Staff have hearts of gold but are demoralized and over worked.

Frankly,from the perspective of a 72 year old, suicide is preferable. I can't even write a living will for assisted death or even removal of food and water. I have to do it myself.
UnlikeReply3May 6, 2016 9:53am
Susan Macaulay · 
What is MDS or RYE please? And I invite you to read a serie of articles I'm writing here: http://myalzheimersstory.com/?s=29
LikeReply1May 8, 2016 8:58pm
Indiana Siobhan Inglorian
I have absolutely no issue with screening elderly drivers for dementia - do you seriously think it's ok for someone not in their right mind driving around and maybe killing someone? Give your head a shake.
LikeReplyMay 30, 2016 2:51am
Julie Ali · 
Indiana Siobhan Inglorian Not all seniors need to be tested fpr dementia; I think this is age discrimination. Ruth Adria has now ensured that age discrimination is prohibited in Alberta: http://www.cbc.ca/.../age-human-rights-alberta-1.3925515
LikeReply22 hrs
Indiana Siobhan Inglorian
Julie Ali Not all elderly people need to be tested for dementia, but if they drive, they certainly should be road and medically tested to keep their driver's licence. A driver's licence is a privilege, not a right.
LikeReply8 minsEdited
Julie Ali · 
Indiana Siobhan Inglorian I don't think all elderly drivers need to be tested. It's just an extra fee for no reason. There are many seniors who are quite competent and able. We don't need to discriminate against them in this way.
Most of the seniors I know are very bright and capable. They may decide not to drive by themselves and I feel we should be respectful of their abilities. Ageism is rife in our society as it is.
While a driver's license as you mention is not a right, if we are going to be testing seniors why not everyone else at regular intervals? It might weed out a lot of poor drivers who are not seniors. This would seem to be the fair thing to do.
LikeReply1 min

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