A B.C. senior is speaking out about the traumatizing treatment he received at a recent visit to Victoria General Hospital.

Bert Matthews, 92, was rushed to the emergency room after fearing he was having a stroke or possibly a heart attack.

But after an initial examination, he found himself admitted to what CBC News later learned was the neurological rehab unit at the hospital.

It was the middle of the night, and he decided he shouldn't be there. 

Bert Matthews - Vancouver Island - B.C.

Bert Matthews wants answers as to why he was tackled and restrained during a recent visit to Victoria General Hospital. (CBC)

"So, I got up and I got dressed and I was trying to get out," he said.

That's when he was tackled by staff attempting to restrain him, Matthews said.

"Four nurses attacked me," he said.

"They jumped on me, held me down, pinned me to the bed and shackled me."

The struggle left his hands cut and bruised.

His son, Bob Matthews, came to visit and found him in bed with a restraining strap across his chest. His legs and hands were also tied down.

Bob Matthews - Vancouver Island - B.C.

Bob Matthews heard his dad calling out, and found him tied to a hospital bed. (CBC)

"I could hear Dad calling, so I went right into the room and he was tied down to the bed. I couldn't believe it," Matthews said.

Due to privacy legislation, hospital officials won't discuss the family's allegations. But in response to CBC's inquiries, the Vancouver Island Health Authority issued a statement.

"Island Health regrets that the family is dissatisfied with the care their father received... we will look into the circumstances surrounding the case," said the statement.

Last week, another elderly couple complained they were deemed mentally unfit at Royal Jubilee and are being held against their will at Victoria General Hospital..

Recently, B.C. became the first Canadian province to appoint a seniors' advocate in response to reports of widespread systemic problems with elder care.

"British Columbians in general and seniors in particular need to be assured that I will do whatever is necessary to advocate what is in their best interests," Isobel Mackenzie said following her appointment in March.

Bert Matthews - Vancouver Island - B.C.

Bert Matthews says nothing in his life, not even fighting in the Second World War, prepared him for what happened during his hospital visit. (CBC)

Matthews, a retired lawyer and decorated Second World War bomber pilot, said he thought he'd seen it all, until that recent hospital visit.

"I've been shot at...I've been machine-gunned. I've been everything, but it's not as bad as being strapped to bed as a helpless big man."


  • A previous version of this story incorrectly named the hospital involved. The incident actually took place at Victoria General Hospital.
    Apr 07, 2014 8:55 AM PT
With files from the CBC's Belle Puri