The Lewisporte woman no longer has to worry about waking up with a strange man in her bed.
This is exactly what happened to her in the middle of the night Feb. 28, while staying at the Grand Falls-Windsor Central Regional Health Facility (CRHF). That morning, a single look at Beverly indicated to her daughter Tammy that something was very wrong.
“She looked exhausted, I asked her why and she said she went to sleep last night and slept on the edge of her bed,” Tammy said. “When she went to turn over, there was a man in her bed.”
Beverly, hospitalized after having a heart attack, was placed in a locked ward due to a shortage of rooms, according to her daughter. The ward is locked down because some patients are known to wander and forget things, Tammy said she was later told by staff at the CRHF.
At about 1:30 that morning, one patient did wander — he wandered over to Beverly’s bed and got in. Tammy said staff at the hospital later returned the man to his own bed, still in the same room. Her frightened mother remained alone in the room with the man for the rest of the night.
“I don’t feel it’s safe to have a mixture of confused and non-confused male and female patients together,” said Tammy. “I was very upset and concerned for Mom.”
The ward is co-ed; in fact many of the rooms at the Central Regional Health Facility in Grand Falls-Windsor have mixed-gender occupants.
“Central Health has had a mixed gender policy for its acute care facilities since 2014,” reads a statement issued to TC Media by Gaïtane Villeneuve, director of communications for Central Health. “Mixed male and female occupancy occurs when accommodation in a room with the same gender is unavailable.”
According to Central Health, the mixed gender policy is aimed at using resources wisely to allow access to “appropriate” in-hospital treatment beds. They “recognize that this is not always the ideal situation for patients and their families.”
Central Health said like most policies, there are exceptions and individual circumstances can be discussed during the admission process.
Beverly said she never even considered the possibility of a mixed-gender room, and in her weakened state she wouldn’t have been able to ask about it, anyway.
Tammy said staff agreed to make changes only after she demanded the move. She feels the staff's initial reaction was to downplay the incident.
“The man in the room scared the bejesus out of her, so I went in the hall where the nurses were and said something needs to be done,” Tammy said. “(The nurse) said they have confused patients. I said, I don’t care, he needs to be moved or she needs to be.’”
Eventually nursing staff agreed Beverly would be moved to another room.
Tammy and her mother are speaking out in hopes that other patients can avoid a similar experience. Tammy to see revisions in Central Health’s policy, in order to protect patients.
“I think there should be changes,” she told TC Media. “No male and female patients together, and the nurses need to do checks more often.”
Beverly was later transported to St. John’s, given the all clear by doctors, and released. Happy to be home but still upset by the situation, she worries about other patients and is also calling for policy change.
“Well, my opinion about (the mixed-gender policy) is not very nice,” she said. “People that have dementia, I don’t think they should ever be in a room with the other patients, let alone men and women. I was in there with a heart attack, it could have turned out much worse.”