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'We are in this fight together': Two families fight for dementia care for loved ones at LHSC
LONDON, ONT. -- As one patient with dementia finally found a bed in the Geriatrics Unit, another was removed from the unit and moved to a secure mental health ward.
Cathy Johnston, 67, who suffers from dementia, was brought to the emergency department at the London Health Sciences Centre's (LHSC) Victoria Hospital on Feb. 13 by ambulance.
Her family was hoping the hospital would help her get the proper dementia care she needed, but over the course of almost two weeks she was kept in seclusion rooms and then moved to a guarded mental health ward.
“I feel like she’s, in my opinion, traumatized because she’s still scared of everybody,” says her sister Cindy Fitzsimons.
Johnston has now been moved to a Geriatrics Unit that specializes in dementia, however when that move was made, another family reached out to CTV News with concerns about their loved one.
Cathy Johnston, 67, is seen in this undated family photo.
“She was upset, crying, and defeated,” says Laurie O’Hara.
O'Hara’s 80-year-old mother, who is also a dementia patient, has been receiving care in the 12-bed Geriatrics Unit at Victoria Hospital for almost a month.
But this past Tuesday, she was moved from her room to a different floor and into a secure mental health ward. I was on the same day Johnston was moved into the Geriatrics Unit.
“I found her sitting alone with her belongings in the hallway and she was upset,” says O'Hara.
CTV News has confirmed that Johnston was in fact moved to the bed that Laurie’s mother formerly occupied.
The family has complained to the hospital about what they are calling a sudden move.
“I was given an apology, and an apology after the fact is unacceptable and meaningless to me,” says O'Hara. “I worry about them moving her around without my consent or input.”
Johnston’s family says hearing that now another dementia patient has been placed in a mental health ward is upsetting to them.
“I sympathize with them and I know what they are going through and we don’t have any control of what’s going on there,” says Fitzsimons.
CTV News reached out to LHSC regarding this situation and received a statement from the vice president of mental health at LHSC, Tom McHugh.
It reads in part, “Patients are transferred between units based on their care needs, and to ensure they are receiving the appropriate level of care they require.”
O'Hara wants Johnston’s family to know she doesn’t blame them and that they are all in this fight together, a fight she says she will continue for her mother.
“LHSC needs to be held accountable and they need to do better and there will be a continued increase in dementia-related illnesses and I want to know, as everyone should, how LHSC plans to handle that with the dignity these people deserve.”