Deer Lodge patient care concerns blamed on ex-manager

Recent complaints about patient care at Winnipeg's Deer Lodge Centre have been traced to one manager who no longer works there, health officials say.

Complaints about chronic-care wing prompted outside review

Recent complaints about patient care at Winnipeg's Deer Lodge Centre have been traced to one manager who no longer works there, health officials say.

Réal Cloutier, Deer Lodge's chief operating officer, responded on Wednesday to a report by the CBC News I-Team that found an external review was underway at the Portage Avenue care home.

The review was prompted by complaints from several patients' families related to the care their loved ones were getting at Lodge 6, a chronic-care wing consisting of 44 beds.

Cloutier had sent a letter about the review to patients and family members in late February.

Among those who took part in the review was Maureen Anderson, who raised concerns about Lodge 6 during the time her husband, Chuck, was living there.

Cloutier said the review, which has since been completed, found problems with the leadership in Lodge 6. The manager in charge of that wing left Deer Lodge in February, and the review was launched after that person's departure, he said.

"Certainly the things we were hearing was there wasn't follow-through on care plans, there was inconsistency from one staff member to another," Cloutier said Wednesday.

"There was quite a bit of worry about communication issues between staff and families. Some families felt intimidated and felt they couldn't say what their concerns were."

A total of 37 employees, 17 families and one resident were interviewed as part of the review, which aimed to speak with everyone who has been affiliated with Lodge 6, including family members of those died or were discharged in the last 18 months.

Left unattended on toilet

Chuck Anderson, 77, died on Jan. 13 after spending four years in Lodge 6.

Maureen Anderson said her husband contracted a superbug there, and staff humiliated him by yelling down the hall when he had soiled himself.

Anderson said she recalls one staff person saying, "Oh well, this is the floor [where] everybody's dying … so take your time, they're not going to go anywhere."

Anderson said at one point, a nurse left Chuck Anderson alone on the toilet, despite the presence of signs ordering staff not to leave the patient unattended.

"He had a thing on the bed that … would go off if he got up," she said.

"But that didn't help any because if he got up, nobody came to it [while it was] ringing for 20, 30 minutes, anyway. So he still got up and moved — and fell."

Chuck Anderson fell off the toilet and some of his body fluids ended up in his lungs, and he died about one month later, according to his wife.

New manager hired

Cloutier said a new manager started at Lodge 6 this week, staff were briefed on the external review findings on Wednesday, and an action plan is in the works.

Cloutier said Deer Lodge is improving staff teamwork and communication, as well as making improvements to infection control procedures.

Deer Lodge will look at whether staffing levels need to be boosted, but Cloutier said "throwing money" at the problem won't work unless the teamwork and communication issues are fixed.