'She's scared': Dementia patient locked in LHSC seclusion rooms for 6 days
LONDON, ONT. -- "I want my wife to be treated right," says Londoner Jack Johnson. He has tears in his eyes as he speaks on the care his wife is receiving from the London Health Science Centre (LHSC).
It was February 13 when Jack called an ambulance with the hopes of getting help for his 67-year-old wife Cathy Johnson, who suffers from dementia.
Cathy was wandering off down the road frequently and seeing a general decline with her dementia. Jack says he just wanted to get her some help.
“I would not have called the ambulance if I knew that was what they were going to do to her. Lock her down there,” he says.
Jack is referring to the seclusion rooms that LHSC has at its Victoria campus for mental health patients.
It’s in these rooms where the family alleges that Cathy, a dementia patient, was on lockdown for six days.
Pictures taken by Cathy’s family show a small concrete room with only a stretcher inside. Obscenities are written on the walls, and food is placed on trays on the floor.
Cathy’s sister Cindy Fitzsimmons was in shock when she saw the conditions her sister was in.
“A person with dementia, you’re not treating them like they have dementia, you’re treating them like a common criminal,” says Fitzsimmons.
There are also no bathrooms in LHSC’s seclusions rooms, and they are often guarded by security personnel.
Fitzsimmons, a retired personal support worker, says that Cathy was sitting in her own urine during one visit.
“She was wet, I believe the sheets were wet and stuff and she smelled like urine and she told us she had an accident because they didn’t let her out,” says Fitzsimmons.
Six days into the ordeal the family was told Cathy would be moved to the Geriatrics Unit because she suffers from dementia.
But instead, Cathy was moved to a secure mental health ward within the hospital.
The family has also reached out to London West MPP Peggy Sattler. Her office is looking into the situation and Sattler says she’s concerned about patient care with the continuing cuts to health care funding.
“We’ve got to do better, we have to make sure that people are getting the kind of care and the quality of care that they deserve and the other thing I’m feeling is a sense of frustration, like why are we seeing this happen over and over again?” Sattler says.
The family believes the Geriatrics Unit is where Cathy belongs.
For Jack’s part he just wants his wife to get the help she needs as he sees her decline day by day.
“She’s terrified up there you know,” says Jack. “She calls me every morning asking to come and get her and take her out of there. She’s scared.”
CTV News has reached out to LHSC for comment and sat down with the vice president of mental health at LHSC, Tom McHugh.
McHugh says, “The hospital would like to apologize to the family and the patient for not meeting their expectations.”
McHugh also touched upon the use of seclusion rooms at LHSC’s Victoria campus and why there continues to be a backlog in the Geriatrics Unit.
That side of the story will be part of our continued coverage in part two of the series.