People banned from visiting family in hospital demand provincial help
PAIGE PARSONS, EDMONTON JOURNAL 09.09.2015
Julie Ali, left, and her sister Sue said they are experiencing 'retribution' after complaining about the quality of their sister's care in a Good Samaritan Society longterm care facility.
PAIGE PARSONS / EDMONTON JOURNAL
An Edmonton woman says she is facing “retribution” in the form of a defamation lawsuit for speaking out about concerns she has about the quality of care her sister was receiving in a long-term care facility.
Julie Ali said her sister Rebecca Lee was evicted from the Good Samaritan Mill Woods Centre in February 2015. Rebecca, 50, suffers from various respiratory conditions. Ali said after raising concerns about care her sister was receiving, she was banned from the property and her sister was evicted. Since then, Rebecca has been lodged at Grey Nuns Community Hospital.
Ali said she is now being sued for defamation for writing about the experience on her blog.
“Why am I a threat to the Good Sam? … I’m not a threat, I’m not a newspaper,” she said.
Now Ali wants the NDP government to intervene to prevent health-care facilities from visiting what they describe as “retribution” on family members of patients for complaining about care.
Ali said it’s critical that family members are able to advocate for their loved ones without fearing repercussions, legal or otherwise.
“My sister can’t do this kind of stuff. I have to speak for her,” she said.
A spokesperson from the Good Samaritan Society was not available Wednesday afternoon.
Ali spoke to media at an event hosted by Elder Advocates of Alberta Society and was joined by several others who said they’ve experienced similar problems of being banned from visiting loved ones or having their family members evicted from care facilities..
Among those attending was Shauna McHarg, who made headlines last year for her efforts to compel Covenant Health to share documents that explain why she had been banned in the past and now has restricted visitation hours to see her parents.
In a precedent-setting decision that went against McHarg, Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench ruled the province’s Health Information Act protects any information broadly connected to a patient’s care, even if that information is about another person.
McHarg’s parents are both residents at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre.
She said she also tried to access the information through a freedom of information request, but said she was told by Alberta Health Services in June 2015 that the records had been shredded.
Covenant Health said Wednesday that it is extremely rare to restrict a family member from visiting unless it is a case where a resident’s well-being is compromised. Spokeswoman Rayne Kuntz said the parents’ agent is McHarg’s sister and that she is in agreement with conditions on McHarg’s visitation.
“Shauna is able to visit her mother and her father under the current visitation conditions,” Kuntz wrote in an email. “Both Covenant Health and the agent have provided reasons for the visitation conditions to Shauna previously.”
McHarg said she has sought a meeting with Health Minister Sarah Hoffman to discuss her concerns, while Ali has reached out to her MLA.
After I got the lawsuit papers it was interesting to see the progress of the case. It's been a real education and one that will interest any other families who will be entering the continuing care system in Alberta. Be prepared folks. Do your due diligence in terms of record keeping, photographs and e-mail paper trail. You just can't make this stuff up.