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Port Hope Simpson man suffers long wait for cataract operation

David Lawless needs surgery to have cataracts removed but his wait has been prolonged. CONTRIBUTED/THE NORTHERN PEN
David Lawless needs surgery to have cataracts removed but his wait has been prolonged. CONTRIBUTED/THE NORTHERN PEN - Contributed

David Lawless can't return home or drive without necessary surgery

David Lawless has been waiting to go home for a year.
The 79-year-old man from Port Hope Simpson, Labrador, has been living with his daughter, Vietta Lawless, in Bear Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula, since September 2018.
He’s been waiting for a procedure at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital in St. Anthony to remove cataracts from his eyes.
But the wait has been prolonged and Vietta and David are starting to run out of patience.
David lives by himself through the spring, summer and fall in Port Hope Simpson. 
But taking care of his home in winter — cutting and packing wood, and clearing snow — is just too much work at his age.
So every year he moves in with Vietta.
Last September, David again moved in with his daughter before winter arrived.
A year later, he hasn’t left.
David made his home in Port Hope Simpson since he moved there from Flower’s Cove for work when he was 20 years old.
It’s his only home as far as he and his family are concerned.
“I want to go back pretty bad,” he told The Northern Pen.
In the spring, when Labrador-Grenfell Health hired a new ophthalmologist at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital in St. Anthony, David and his family started to get their hopes up that he’d have the procedure soon.
However, according to Vietta, they’ve been repeatedly told by staff at the hospital that they’re still waiting on the equipment to perform the operation.
Within the past couple weeks, they’ve received a letter officially suspending David's driver’s license until the cataracts are removed.
David can’t go home, he can’t drive. Otherwise capable of taking care of himself, he now has to rely on his daughter.
With winter just around the corner, he may not be able to go home until next year — unless he has the surgery soon.
Vietta is sad to see him have so much taken away, just waiting for this procedure.
She believes he shouldn’t have to wait this long.
“If the (new ophthalmologist) has been here since May, they should have it ready to go in June or July,” she told The Northern Pen.
The only other alternative is to go to Corner Brook, but she says the wait list is very long.
Vietta filed a complaint to Labrador-Grenfell Health (LGH) on Aug. 6.
LGH responded to an inquiry to The Northern Pen on Sept 11. 
A spokesperson said complex cataract surgery is being provided and the equipment is actually in place at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital.
This contrasts with Vietta being told the equipment is not at the hospital.
However, MacNeil added certain services will only be available once completion of equipment-specific orientation is completed.

stephen.roberts@northernpen.ca


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