Policies were followed, but is that enough?

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The Coalition of Persons with Disabilities-NL has been awaiting the results of the internal review undertaken by Eastern Health following the death of a young man during transfer from one site to another.

What we heard on the news was Eastern Health’s CEO state all policies were properly followed.

What we did not hear, but what may well have been said but not aired, was that the next step in this internal review should be to examine why the policy failed to keep the client safe during transfer.

The client’s family identified this young man as having a mental health crisis and intervention was called for to help everyone involved safely through the crisis. This issue holds the potential to become much more serious if other families of clients with confusion, dementia, brain injury or mental health issues, or the clients themselves, now view the health-care system as being unable to identify or meet their safety requirements during a crisis event.

This would severely limit options to receive the necessary intervention during a crisis.

The regional health authorities offer all kinds of health intervention services and one type of illness should be no more or less valued than another. Admittedly, the size of ground covered by each of our regional health authorities must be quite daunting, but administrators must anticipate some amount of transferring from one unit to another.

While policy is not normally made on one case, it is apparent here that patients with confusion, agitation, disorientation, or experiencing the potential for violence or self-harm from any vast array of conditions must be assured policy is broad enough to guarantee the safety of all persons who require transfers.

As an advocacy organization that looks for equity amongst all persons within this province, we ask that Eastern Health inform future potential users of their system what policy changes they will make to ensure such a terrible event becomes does not occur in the future.

Or do we need to find another method of transfer around sites within Newfoundland and Labrador?

Michelle Murdoch

Coalition of Persons with Disabilities-NL

Organizations: Coalition of Persons

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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  • Ron Tizzard
    November 10, 2012 - 09:22

    I agree with the prayer of Herb's observation. There are no certainties in this life. I grew up with a brother with most severe physical disabilities who lived into adulthood requiring total care...but died prematurly, as expected. ....mentally, I would guess he had a very high IQ, never in school, a self-taught avid reader,,,turning the pages of his book, papers with a spoon in his mouth. He was totally dependent...physically; mentally...he was blessed. I say this in support...despite all the good things in life,,,with nth of due diligence grief can happen. APART from absolute negligence....the public is expected to afford some level of respect to our 'public care-takers'. Today, we tend to be absolutely intolerant of shortcomings....and sadly I say...that is not going to happen....a reality of our 'limited' potentials as 'human beings'. Sorry!

  • Herb Morrison
    November 09, 2012 - 14:53

    Ms. Murdoch: While I respect and admire any person or group of persons, including the Coalition of persons with disabilities, which advocate on behalf of people who might otherwise not have a voice in our Society, when such an individual or group speaks about providing a guarantee to a specific group of people, I am concerned. Why am I concerned because seeking such guarantees for anyone, within the context of any situation is, in my opinoin an unrealistic approach to taken. In my sixry plus years of life on this planet, the fact that there are no guarantees in this life, has become abundantly clear to me. As Kenny Rodgers the legendary Country singer put it in his song entitled "The Gambler," the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep." If your organization is to have credibility in the eyes of the general public, many of whom know that there are no guarantees in this life, based on their personal life experience, it would appear, based on the organization's responce to this situatuion, that your organization needs to temper its' idealistic and commendable quest for justice for persons with disabilities, with a firmer grasp of the realities which are prevalent in our world and which make overly idealistic objectives unattainable. Idealism is fine as long as those of us who persue ideals do so with both feet firmly planted on the ground. Otherwise, our chances of being heard by those people whose sense of idealism is realistically tempered, by the reality that there are no guarantees in this life for anyone. as we struggle to meet the challenges which an unforgiving world can throw at us at any time. While your assertion that: "while policy is not normally made on one case, it is apparent here that patients with confusion, agitation, disorientation, or experiencing the potential for violence or self-harm from any vast array of conditions must be assured policy is broad enough to guarantee the safety of all persons who require transfers," reflects am admirable sense of idealism, it also appears there is a need on the part of the organization which you represent, to temper its' obvious zeal for justice and equality, with a former grasp on how things actually operate here in the real world.