Related Article: Update of previously reported case – Ajax Pickering Hospital Sep 13, 2012
Another story of abuse by health care providers. Seniors at Risk has been working with this Ontario family for the past month, after it was brought to our attention by one of our website readers.
Marilyn Nelson and her spouse Arthur Hippe, both in their sixties, have shared the last 26 years together. Today though, the loving couple is prevented from seeing one another, except for two hours a day in a Toronto-area hospital, where they are not permitted a single moment of privacy.
Arthur Hippe suffered a stroke in late May 2010 and was admitted to Ajax Pickering Hospital east of Toronto. He is paralyzed on his left side and his speech has been affected. He remains in the same hospital today, apparently having received no post-stroke treatment or rehabilitation.
Arthur granted Marilyn his Power of Attorney for Personal Care on May 12, 2009, giving her the legal authority to make all his medical care consent decisions. However from the very beginning, the hospital disregarded Marilyn’s legal authority, refused to provide her with Arthur’s medical records, and made continual efforts to thwart her in making care consent decisions on Arthur’s behalf. Marilyn has asked on several occasions that Arthur be moved to a rehab or residential care facility, but the hospital continues to claim that there are no beds available.
Ajax Pickering Hospital is one of two hospitals operated by the Rouge Valley Health System, led by CEO Rik Ganderton (previously an executive with IBM Canada). The hospital’s motto is “Patients First!”
One day, Marilyn came to visit Arthur and saw that he was staring vacantly, a marked difference. She asked hospital staff if he was on any new medications and was told he was on Zyprexa.
Marilyn Nelson researched the drug and found, to her horror, that, in addition to numerous toxic side effects, Zyprexa and other antipsychotic drugs are well-known to increase the risk of strokes (cerebrovascular events). Asserting her legal right to provide consent (or not), she instructed the hospital physician treating Arthur, Dr. Carman Price, to take Arthur off Zyprexa. That’s when the relationship with the hospital escalated further into bewildering hostility, says Marilyn.
“One of us has to go, and it’s going to be you!“
Dr. Price did not agree with Marilyn that Zyprexa and other antipsychotic drugs were harmful to Arthur, and in a meeting with Dr. Price and other hospital personnel, Marilyn says Price told her “One of us has to go, and it’s going to be you!”
So, what’s going on, you ask? How is it that a hospital and doctors can ignore a legal document stipulating that another person has full authority and responsibility to make medical care consent decisions?
As Seniors at Risk has reported in other cases, the powers of attorney, representation agreements and other legal documents that we are all urged to have in place, appear to be worth less than the paper they are written on.
Health care facility administrators, doctors and public agencies routinely ignore these legal documents or maliciously attempt to intimidate or discredit the individuals who have the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of their loved ones. Instead, doctors and health care facilities impose their own views about what treatment and care your loved one should receive. The unaccountable power of health care facilities to bully, threaten and ignore the directives of substitute decision makers, without any consequences, is too often reinforced by banning from the premises anyone who attempts to intervene to protect and care for their loved one.
Another case of banning by health care facility autocrats
Marilyn Nelson is concerned that her husband Arthur is not being cared for properly at Ajax Pickering Hospital. In December 2011, banned from the hospital under allegations by the hospital that police found to be baseless, Marilyn was no longer able to bring Arthur a daily meal, visit or phone him.
As a result of this action, Marilyn missed Arthur’s birthday. With no family or friends living nearby, Arthur was utterly alone. “The worst of it was that he didn’t know why I had suddenly and without warning disappeared from his life!”, cries Marilyn.
Despite the police absolving her of any wrong-doing within a week of the allegation being made, inexplicably the hospital continued the ban for almost two months. Finally, after Marilyn wrote to the hospital appealing for her visiting rights to be restored, the hospital permitted her to see Arthur for one hour a day, under guard. This “favour” was extracted only after Marilyn signed a document agreeing to abide by the doctor’s treatment plan. Marilyn signed that document “under duress” just so she could see Arthur again. The “agreement” included the prescribing of yet another antipsychotic drug, Haldol, a drug with equal or worse side effects than Zyprexa.
When Marilyn was finally permitted to see Arthur again (but not allowed to feed him any longer), she was shocked at his weight loss. Arthur’s sister, Thelma Matheson, echoes her concern. “He weighed 190 pounds when he entered the hospital,” says Thelma. Recently, the doctor and hospital staff admitted that Arthur now weighs “maybe 100 pounds”, they weren’t sure exactly.
In Marilyn’s own words
Marilyn Nelson and an elder rights advocate from Seniors at Risk were interviewed by the Sun News program, The Arena with Michael Koren on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. Marilyn Nelson provides an overview of what she has endured over the 24 months that Arthur has been hospitalized. Coren, who has had personal experience with family suffering from stroke and requiring hospitalization, expressed shock, likening the conduct of doctors and hospital officials in this case to “thugs”, “bullies” and “commissars” and describing the treatment of Arthur and Marilyn as “sadistic”.
In her interview, Marilyn Nelson explains how she was threatened with not being able to see her partner of 26 years again unless she signed a paper agreeing to abide by whatever treatment the doctor ordered, and how she was threatened by Dr. Price.
Marilyn Nelson interview:
Seniors at Risk interview
The two video segments run about 10-12 minutes in total.
The relationship with the hospital has worsened, despite the efforts of lawyers who have intervened on Marilyn’s behalf. See this letter to hospital CEO Rik Ganderton sent by a lawyer who assisted Marilyn. The letter attests in the strongest terms, to Marilyn’s legal authority to make care consent decisions on Arthur’s behalf.
In the next instalment of this story, you will learn how the hospital usurped Marilyn’s legal authority, and unilaterally placed Arthur on palliative care, despite the fact that he does not have a terminal illness. To Marilyn and others who have seen Arthur, he appears to be in no imminent risk of death from the effects of stroke, but at great risk of harm from negligent care.
Knowledge. Compassion. Courage. Action.
Take a stand against institutional elder abuse.