Woman claims Winnipeg hospital wrongly sent her home
When Tammy Homeniuk was discharged from a Winnipeg hospital last week, she didn't have her wheelchair, didn't have house keys and didn't have the help she needs to do the most basic of bodily functions.
But she was sent home anyway, despite the fact that just weeks earlier, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority had created a checklist to follow when discharging vulnerable patients.
"I don't know why. I kept telling them I don't even have my house keys," said Homeniuk, 34, adding hospital staff told her she should have been better prepared for the hospital visit, since she'd been there so often.
"They said 'it's not my first rodeo.'"
The incident occurred early last week, after she was rushed to the ER during a cardiac event.
"They had to restart my heart two times in the ambulance. That's what they told me," Homeniuk said.
Later, when she was released, she told them she'd left her wheelchair at home, she did not have house keys, there was no one home to let her in or care for her, and no ongoing home care in place.
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Homeniuk, who is diabetic and has a heart condition and lives on social assistance, is exactly the kind of patient that the WRHA's Safe Discharge Guidelines seek to protect. They were created about two years ago following the death of a woman who'd just been discharged from hospital.
But late last year, it happened again, twice. In each case, patients were discharged by hospital, sent home via taxi, and died soon after.
So two weeks ago, the WRHA created a patient discharge checklist, a kind of 'to-do' list to ensure the guidelines are covered. It even calls for "extra caution" to be used for especially vulnerable patients (those who have mobility issues, communication or cognitive issues, addiction issues, etc).
Lori Lamont, the WRHA's vice president and chief nursing officer, told CBC News they reviewed Homeniuk's file and she is satisfied that proper protocol was followed.
She said the nurse and social worker "spent several hours" with Homeniuk prior to her release to come up with a game plan. When they realized she did not have a wheelchair with her, they provided her one.
Still, she acknowledged that the discharge checklist is new to the scene, "so there may, in fact, be a bit of a learning curve for staff."
Homeniuk said the wheelchair was a reluctant, last-minute offer on the part of the WRHA. The first suggestion of an ambulance ride home, was not feasible because she needed to track down her house keys from a friend in the other end of the city, she said.
Lamont said she "would be happy to follow up" with Homeniuk to see if there was something that could have done differently.
"In this case, we do know that staff spent a couple of hours working with her on a plan to return home," Lamont told CBC's Marcy Markusa Monday morning on Information Radio. "I'm very sorry that Miss Homeniuk feels she didn't get the assistance she required when she was discharged."
She has also offered to talk to Homeniuk about any additional services she feels she needs at home.