Patient placed in 'filthy' conference room at London, Ont., hospital to recover from infection

A London, Ont., woman is speaking out after her daughter was placed in a "filthy" conference room at University Hospital while recovering from an infection.

The room was dusty and had no bathroom or nurse call button

This is the room where Kendal Winegarden was placed at University Hospital. She was recovering from surgery and an infection. (Karen Creasor)

A London, Ont., woman is speaking out after her daughter was placed in a "filthy" conference room at the city's University Hospital while recovering from an infection. 

Kendal Winegarden, 28, has had four major surgeries in the last five years and has to be on antibiotics at all times because of chronic infections, her mother, Karen Creasor, told CBC News. 

Her latest surgery was last week. Winegarden spent the weekend in a ward room with a patient who was aggressive and combative. She was eventually moved out of that room — and into a conference room. 

"There's no call bell for the nurse, no working phone, nowhere to go to the washroom, no place to wash hands. The room was filthy," Creasor said. 

"It was filled with dust, chairs, no windows, and they opened medical supplies that had been transferred to her room onto a towel on the table. Because of her issue with infection, that's a concern." 

Creasor said the family was told Winegarden had to be moved into the conference room because she was "the least sick of the sick." 

London Health Sciences Centre vice president Julie Trpkovski said sometimes patients need to be placed in "unconventional spaces" because the hospital is at 100 per cent occupancy. 

"Our aim is always to move patients into appropriate care spaces as soon as possible," Trpkovski said. 

'Fighting for her life'

"As a mom, I'm outraged. I'm flabbergasted. I feel like I'm fighting for her life. We understand more than anybody the challenges the health care system has, I understand they're stressed, they're understaffed, but this is too much," Creasor said. 

Winegarden spent about eight hours in the conference room on Thursday before she was moved into a proper hospital room. 

"They just left her in there. There was no communication, so people couldn't find her to give her her meds, give her food," Creasor said. "At one point she was crying and someone just happened to walk by and hear her, so she was able to ask for ice." 

'Not an ideal experience'

"LHSC has been experiencing longstanding, significant pressures in our overall capacity, causing us to frequently operate at over 100 per cent capacity," Trpkovski said, adding she can't comment on specific patients.

"We understand that receiving care in unconventional spaces is not an ideal experience for patients and families and we strive to ensure the [Hallway Transfer Protocol] policy is used as it is intended — to be a short-term measure." 

London North Centre MPP Terence Kernaghan called the situation "appalling." 

"No one who is sick should be placed in a room like this. It's absolutely appalling," he said. "It comes down to cuts that the government has imposed on health care. The hallway medicine crisis has been taken to a whole new level. Things were bad under the Liberal government and now the Ford government has taken things from bad to worse." 

Kernaghan urged other patients to reach out to their MPPs to tell share their experiences with the health care system. 

"It's our duty to make sure the government understands the consequences of their underfunding." 

The province told CBC News it has made a commitment to end hallway health care and it knows that certain hospitals need additional support. 

"The government will continue to work with any hospitals experiencing fiscal pressures to ensure we protect and enhance patient care in our community," the health ministry said in a statement.