Personal protest

Danette Dooley
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Injured worker complains WHSCC ‘setting me further back’

Shirley Ryan in front of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission building in St. John’s Wednesday morning. — Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram

Shirley Ryan held a quiet protest outside the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission in St. John’s early Wednesday morning, long before the commission opened its doors to the public at 8:30 am.

Ryan sustained a workplace injury Dec. 24, 2004 which eventually resulted in the amputation of the bottom part of her leg.

On Wednesday morning, she sat in her wheelchair holding poster-size placards. 

She’d written “Sense vs Cents” in large letters on one poster to indicate the trouble she’s having with workers’ compensation.

“I came down because I can’t get no satisfaction from WHSCC,” she said.

“They are setting me further back as each year goes by, concerning my health,” Ryan said after coming out of the building, having agreed to go inside and meet with commission employees.

Nothing was accomplished from the meeting, she said.

Ryan was recently diagnosed with lower back problems including bulging discs.

She believes these problems were brought on because workers’ compensation wouldn’t pay for some therapy or a rental or loaner electronic wheelchair to help protect her upper body.

At the same time she was diagnosed with back problems, she said, workers’ compensation cut her homecare from 43 hours a week to 11 hours a week.

“Now I need it more than ever,” she said.

Ryan said she was supposed to have a meeting with workers’ compensation to discuss her concerns on Tuesday. She said she was initially told the commission would pay for her taxi to and from the meeting.

However, she said, she was later told workers’ compensation would not foot the cab fares. The meeting did not take place, she said.

In addition to the cut to her homecare hours, Ryan said the commission has also taken her lifeline — a medical alert response device for people who may need immediate medical attention.

That happened on Tuesday, she said, the same day she inquired about her taxi fares. Ryan said she won’t be quiet until she gets the help she needs and is entitled to.

“I’m not going to be another one of those statistics where you fall through the cracks in the system … and I’m not doing this just for myself. I want to make sure that other people don’t go through the torture and the hell that I’m after having to face.”

While she cannot speak about individual cases, the commission’s CEO Leslie Galway did confirm that she spoke with Ryan in person Wednesday morning.

“It’s an honour to speak with any of the workers who use our services and today I had an opportunity to talk one of them and I’m very happy to have had that experience,” she said later in the day.

Galway said it’s not unusual for injured workers to come to the commission’s offices stressed and unhappy about the decisions that have been made on their claim.

There is a complaints process for these workers to follow, she said.

The process involves discussions between the worker and a case management team, she said. “It all takes place … within the policies, practices and procedures associated with the entitlement of our client, particularly the injured worker,” Galway said.

One of the confusing issues that an injured worker often faces, Galway said, is in dealing with the transfer from the original injury to recovery.

“At various points along that continuum, until you are ready to return to work, there are changes in your medical needs and what’s medically suitable to help you with those needs,” she said.

Galway said as the worker recovers from the injuries some medical supports may be eliminated. In other cases, she said, when recovery isn’t going as well as anticipated, supports may be added.

These decisions are made after a review of information provided by the worker’s medical team, she said.

When asked about injured workers who turn to the media when they feel they cannot get the help they’re entitled to, Galway said client surveys indicate that “(workers) have become a little more satisfied as each year passes with the services that are being provided.”

“The most important piece that holds this whole process together is a genuine interest in communication and that’s both the listening and the talking,” she said.

Trish Dodd of the Injured Workers’ Association said there are many people like Ryan, who are suffering because they are not being treated fairly by the commission.

“If there’s a win for a worker, (workers’ compensation) will do something to block it … that’s why the word discretion is used in their policies,” Dodd said.

telegram@thetelegram.com

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Safety and Compensation Commission, Injured Workers

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  • shirley ryan
    June 13, 2012 - 07:38

    to those who are hiding behind their computers and are afraid to say this face to face with the injured workers, God Bless You if this should happen to you or a loved one, As I find myself repeating the same line, not evading like ms galway, i have my good days and my bad days, What I am trying to get across to the public is that I would have been back to work a long time ago but because whscc saw fit to deny deny deny, turn down physio, make me wait in between long periods to approve more which sets a patient back tremendously, for example when my foot first got infected , do you agree with whscc making me wait 8 days to approve the antibiotics and the pain meds, if you do, you are as ignorant as them , and furthermore, i am not milking the system, love to be able to go back to work and am trying to see what i can work at differently that won't cause me so much pain, so because of thier neglect and their procedures and policies, my body deteriorated and still is while whscc still makes me wait for what a neurologist, surgeon, family doctor and physiotherapists has recommended that my body heals somewhat accordingly, and when speaking to whscc, their answer was in response to my physio, their response was " they do not do continued physio" even though without it , i was told i would become bedridden, and their answer to me was. SO BE IT. well , to all of you out there who are stupid enough to think otherwise, either you work for a big company or you a a robotic worker from whscc themselves, because in our society , we are thought that no human being could be that cruel and coldhearted, but guess what. WRONG. their are IDIOTS out there and many of them, who have their pockets lined and dont care about another human being, you are inhuman, unfeeling and need to get a rude-0 awakening, which in my heart , i hope you never do have to walk a step in my shoes let alone a mile. to those who support me, thank you for being human, i am laughing now because they do not know how much milk i am getting, cause it is laughable. have a great day and i will until m,y dying day help INJURED WORKERS so that would be one less thing for them to worry about while in pain and suffering at the hands of hitlers followers at whscc, maybe mr mahoney should spend some of the whscc money on aiding an injured worker instead of going to another country to do a course in video surveillance, so thats where the peoples money goes. its a farce and they know that they whscc is there for the companies not the injured workers, 74 per cent of their positive feedback is minor injury workers not major injury workers, there is a difference!!!! if you ever want to wake up and look around and see what they are doing to the people from all government departments, so i suppose you agree with also that all it takes is a disgruntled neighbour to make a call to CYFS and make up lies about a neighbour and their child is taken from their school or daycare without any proof in the pudding, so much for teaching our children not to talk to strangers when in fact, goverment departments has procedures and poplicies but they are the only ones breaking their own rules, to when it suits them and to hell with the people , right. I thought wrong, I was so wrong to think that while you pay to an insurance that it will help you in your time of need.

  • CBGirl
    December 22, 2011 - 20:04

    It is true, we are only getting one side of the story here. However, there are a LOT of people who are on the receiving end of injuries much more significant than Ms Ryan who bounce back within a short period of time. Would anyone like me to name a few? Jody Mitic, double amputee from below the knee (2007), recently RAN a 21 km race on his new fangled prosthetics. Paul Franklin, double amputee above the knee (2006), walks his kid to school, drives one of the smallest cars on the planet after putting his own wheelchair in the car himself. Now, this lady was injured in 2004. Thats nearly 7 years. Perhaps there is a side of 'milking the system' here. Countless people will speak against WHSCC, however there comes a time when people need to be responsible for their own recovery. Sadly the bulging discs are most likely a consequence of lack of movement, not the original injury (there is no reason why a partial leg amputation should result in being confined to a wheelchair, and there is nothing in the story that would suggest she would require an electric wheelchair due to a leg injury). Compensation should have been in the form of a lump sum payment for the amputation which should have covered lost wages (PIF), and the medical care (to a certain extent) would be covered as well. She had 43 hours of fully funded homecare support for 8 years? It does not appear this woman is willing to recover. It appears she has both hands out. Like I said before, while the guys mentioned above are missing both their legs, they fought hard battles to become, once again, fully able to work, run and live their lives with the hand god dealt. People usually get favourable responses from WHSCC when they state they want to re-enter the workforce as soon as possible. She is able to work again if she is willing to put in the work that will be required to do so. Sure, she is missing part of a leg, but thats an obstacle in her way, not a complete life-ender.

    • shirley ryan
      December 27, 2011 - 12:18

      if you my dear thinks thisis called milking the system, well my dear let me inform you, that no two individuals are alike, eveyone heals differently, everyone has a flu differently, no two humans are exactly alike, i am fighting for what i need, to ry and stop whscc from tearing apart my body, tearing it apaart slowly but surely , denied all kinds of recommendations to be put where they put me to today, thats the bottom line, and unless you are ever, which i hope you dont , ever have to deal with whscc nad the pain, suffering, degradation, humiliation and having to go through a life changing experiencing and still changing each day, as i go from day to day, i realize and my body realizes what it can and cannot do, yes maybe i could have ran ina marathon too, but i bet you that those people werent declined the proper medical assistance to help them in gaining their momentum, were they, can you answer that sir or madam,?

  • Busymom
    December 22, 2011 - 17:34

    I would like to remind Seamus that employers pay all costs of WHSCC not employees- there is no entitlement to benefits. The benefits are there as an insurance only.

  • willie
    December 22, 2011 - 16:56

    with this many negative comments there must be something wrong with this system.i agree it 't for the employees @whscc did you ever hear of a labour dispute down there it seem's they (the workers @whscc ) must have it pretty good. every walk of life has a labour dispute every now and then.

  • Elaine
    December 22, 2011 - 15:21

    A few years ago I was injured at work. Whscc was quick and great! They set up MRI's and a knee surgion apointment with in weeks of my injury. Anything I needed I got, more physio therapy, a fit for work program and a knee brace...They helped me in anyway possible in returning to work . I had no issues at all with them, As soon as my sessons was close to running out my case manager was approving more with no questions, I even had one ( I had 3 case managers alltogether) case manager call me on a regular basis just to see how I was doing as he knew I was drove nuts being stuck indoors .Thankfully I recovered , will as much as I can and was able to return to work, even to this day I still have appointments every 6 months with a knee surgion which is set up by whscc...But every case is different and I hope this lady gets the help she needs!:)

    • Victim Of Compensation Abuse
      January 04, 2012 - 17:58

      Herein ies the difference. You were not disabled from employment. Like about 85% of injuries completely recover and go back to work. The other 15% like Shirley? Well now you know. Once identified as totally disabed from employment, they try to eliminate (fancy word for murder) you. Torture through the use of mental toment and physical pain and being forced into poverty usually finishes off the victim of compensation abuse. But remember folks, you can appeal! (said sarcastically as I die slowly from negelct, pain, poverty, and the loss of my freedoms and rights). Oh yes! They do that so you cannot get help from police or the courts.While you suffer in misery, lose everything you worked for, and are left nothing but basic welfare with no medical care, then you will know how effective they are at getting rid of "injured workers". Workers Comp, all across North America, is an "identify and eliminate" eugenics Program. Using appeals proceses that workers comp admits causes mental illess in the patient, cutting off medical aid to a sick person in need (especially treatments for Chronic Pain), forcing them to go to welfare instead of getting the promised 75% or more in wage loss benefits, Injured workers being excluded from the Canada health Act, Provincial workers comp Acts remove the patients legal rights, and the patient is dead withn a few years of trying to stay sane while government attacks him mentally and phsically every day. Many have died trying to get well and back to work. but workers comp won't let us get well, won't let us get back to work, and we are held hostage barely surviving on welfare. Suicides are common amongst inured workers because of this mistreatment.

  • Mindy
    December 22, 2011 - 14:22

    I agree with Mike...we only hear one story. and yes they have to follow guidelines and procedures, Every case cannot be treated as an individual. That would certainly lead to discrimination.

  • Seamus
    December 22, 2011 - 11:20

    Hey Frustrated, did you ever bother to think that the people who you are accusing of taking advantage of the system (with absolutely no proof I might add) have paid into the system as well due to the fact that they were working? And by the way, you are right with one thing, it is like welfare. Everyone gets a bad name because a very small amount of people are taking advantage of the system. If you have such a problem with social programs, why don't you move to the states where all your tax money will go to the military to ensure that your sons and daughters are wearing the best equipment when they get slaughtered thousands of miles from home over an oil well.

    • Ray Chavez
      December 22, 2011 - 17:37

      Seamus, while i agree with most of your comment, your statement about ALL our tax dollars going to fund our Military is a bit harsh.Your statement about our reason is assinine at best. Look to the Canadian Military, one of the best in the world, Well funded and well equipped with your tax dollars. In case you missed it Seamus side by side with our military next to that oil well!!

  • informant
    December 22, 2011 - 11:15

    i have been notyfying/reporting a couple from our hometown for years, they are both on estended earnings loss but both of them can drive their car anywhere and go out gambling for hours every night of the week, they continue to get anything they want from the whscc while others get the shaft like this ryan lady, the commission is not doing good enough to ignoree fraud and penalizer legite claims

  • Chris again
    December 22, 2011 - 10:47

    Here's one. A month or so ago i went into WHSCC to drop off a letter. There was construction going on in the lobby, and there were two construction workers moving a scaffold from one side of the lobby, to the other. A third workers was on the top of the scaffold, without a harness or any safety equipment!!! Idiot organization can't even police itself!

  • Chris
    December 22, 2011 - 10:40

    Workers employees are there to ensure that workers employees have work! Bottom line!

  • paddy Joe
    December 22, 2011 - 09:03

    George Orwell must be turning in his grave---Ms. Galway takes " doublespeak " to a whole new level......“It’s an honour to speak with any of the workers who use our services and today I had an opportunity to talk one of them and I’m very happy to have had that experience,”-------The issue is not about you, Ms. Galway---speak to the issue, don't obfuscate and throw self-serving platitudes around------like too many bureaucrats you traffic in euphemism and evasion-----give us a break!!

  • Frustrated
    December 22, 2011 - 08:50

    It's so easy for everyone to say horrible things about Workers Comp. Does anyone ever realize that there is legislation, policies and procedures that are clearly outlined when you are initially injured??!!?? Seems as though everyone that is on Workers Comp "Needs" it and are "suffering" because Workers Comp isnt helping them. Just like WELFARE. People abuse the system EVERY DAY and who are the ones providing these moochers with their money??? Hard working individuals who live pay check to pay check to pay bills and get only 25,000 of the 35,000 a year they're supposed to make because you got lazy people who want to sit at home and sponge off the government. Do a bit of research will ya, don't be so naive to think that EVERYONE is out to get you. Some people really need to be more open and accepting that you can't always get what you want.

  • Jean
    December 22, 2011 - 07:19

    Typical.....Workers Comp has such a bad reputation.....Seems like the people who are really in need are made suffer, physically and mentally...while others ...welll!!... I would bet that those making the decisions have never suffered any pain and have had their lives turned upside down....Most people would LOVE to be able to work instead of staying home, suffering, and loosing out financially... JMO

    • Mike
      December 22, 2011 - 08:22

      It's amazing how people automatically assume WCC is in the wrong. Unfortunately, we only get to hear Ms. Ryan's side because WCC can't discuss her case publicly. Maybe there'e more to it than we are hearing. That is often the case.

    • worker
      December 22, 2011 - 09:38

      Speaking for myself in dealing with workers comp these past few years thats all you hear out of them is policy this and procedure that...I as an injured worker have been to hell and back again, no one knows what an injured worker goes through with their physical, mental, emotional and financial aspect of it all. To workers you are only a claim number and nothing more, they don't care about you, I sure hope they don't have to go through the pain and suffering that injured workers have to go through and if they do I hope they have to deal with the same kind of pain that we go through.

  • pissed off with whscc
    December 22, 2011 - 07:08

    When is someone going to fix WHSCC, we hear way too many stories of injuried workers being screwed over by WHSCC - and Ms. Galway stop hiding behind the policies and procedures of the WHSCC and being a human being and fix the system - you have the power to do good. One problem I see in the policies is the use of the phrase "Reasonable and Appropriate" I know for a fact that one Case Manager (who only works 3 days a week) can override the precription of 3 Anesthesiologist, and an Orthopedic Surgeon, a family doctor and the physical therapist that is actually working on the patience. How is this right, when a part time employee (a physical therapy consultant) can over-ride 4 doctors when it comes to medications? How is that reasonable and appropriate?????????