Another family looks for answers after a breach of privacy in long-term care

A third Newfoundland family is speaking up about a reported breach of privacy involving their loved one, who is a resident of long-term care at the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre.

N.L. woman says she was told staff were talking about and laughing at her grandmother

Colleen Gray is pictured with her grandmother, Dorothy Foster, a resident of long-term care at the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre. (Submitted by Colleen Gray)

Another Newfoundland family is asking for answers and accountability after receiving a call from Central Health about their loved one in long-term care at the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre.

Colleen Gray says the regional health authority informed her a few weeks ago that some staff members had been talking about and laughing at her 92-year-old grandmother, Dorothy Foster, within earshot of Foster.

"It was something to do with a private matter with her, with a bowel movement or something. And I guess the nurses thought it was funny," Gray told CBC News.

Gray said she was assured the staff involved aren't caring for her grandmother at the moment, but Gray would like more information to be made available about exactly what went on and which employees were responsible.

The incident involving Foster is the latest to be disclosed publicly by family members of residents at the Baie Verte long-term care unit.

Last week, two families told CBC they'd received calls from Central Health about inappropriate photos taken of their loved ones, who live or had lived on the same unit as Foster.

Bernice Barker said Central Health told her staff took an inappropriate photo of her husband, Rick Barker, 64, who is in the late stages of Huntington's disease.

Sheila Reid said she was told the regional health authority had an inappropriate photo, taken by a staff member, of her cousin, Reginald Regular, 66, who died last December at the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre. Reid was Regular's next-of-kin.

Central Health said it has referred the matter to the RCMP and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and the RCMP say they are investigating.

Staff no longer providing care

Gray said Central Health also told her there is a voice message recording related to the incident with her grandmother.

She said her main concern now is that she does not want the staff involved to be caring for her grandmother.

"They guaranteed me that these people would not be going in and dealing with Nan for now," said Gray.

It's all abuse to the elderly and their privacy.- Colleen Gray

Central Health told CBC in a statement Friday that action has been taken regarding the staff involved and that the health authority "has taken appropriate disciplinary measures up to and including termination."

Central Health said the staff involved will not be providing care to residents.

Rick Barker, 64, is pictured with his grandson. Central Health has told Barker's family that an inappropriate photo of Barker was taken by someone on staff at the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre. (Submitted by Bernice Barker)

Proud woman

Gray said she'd like to know more specifics about the incident involving her grandmother but she was relieved to be told by Central Health that, in her grandmother's case, there are no photos of her.

Still, Gray said she feels what happened to her grandmother was ignorant and disrespectful.

"They might say, because there's no pictures, that it's not so bad," said Gray. "It's all abuse to the elderly and their privacy."

Gray said her grandmother doesn't seem to recall what happened and the family does not discuss it with her.

"I can imagine how much shame she'd feel because she's such a proud person," said Gray.

Reginald Regular was a resident of the long-term care unit at Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre until he died in December 2021. His next of kin has been notified that an inappropriate photo was taken of Regular. (Submitted by Sheila Reid)

Central Health has said it regrets the incidents and it apologizes to the families affected.

The health authority said a representative will do an interview with CBC on Tuesday.

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Bernice Hillier is a host of CBC Newfoundland Morning, which airs weekday mornings across western and central Newfoundland, as well as southern Labrador.