Myth – Police are diligent in investigating elder abuse

To hear criminology professor Robert Gordon tell a nation-wide CBC Radio audience a few weeks ago, you’d think that action is readily, even automatically, taken to investigate suspected elder abuse when it is reported. You’d be mistaken to draw that conclusion.

The Current, CBC Radio’s flagship investigative program, profiled the tragic death of Betty Anne Gagnon, an Alberta woman living with her sister and brother-in-law, both of whom pleaded guilty to negligence in Ms. Gagnon’s death and are awaiting sentencing. The segment “What happened to Betty Anne Gagnon?” aired on June 18, 2013.

On air, Professor Gordon, Director of the School of Criminology at British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University, said, “The Public Guardians and Trustees in Canada have a responsibility to ensure that individuals (who are abused or neglected or those who neglect themselves)… are protected.”

Prof. Gordon said that legislation governing the Public Guardian and Trustee offices in each province ensures that the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT), along with the health authorities and the police, “would be duty bound to actually investigate” complaints of elder abuse.

But how well does the Public Guardian and Trustee staff carry out those responsibilities and duties? And, how well are the criminal laws that supposedly protect citizens from elder abuse crimes being enforced? Let’s examine the evidence.

Reality: Media attention or exposing hidden video images can prompt action

Judging by the growing volume of disturbing cases brought to Seniors at Risk’s attention, reports of suspected elder abuse, and especially abuse by health care facility staff, are being routinely ignored by authorities, including and especially the police. Indeed CBC host Anna Maria Tremonti points out to Prof. Gordon that “family members tried to get help for Betty Anne (Gagnon) by calling the RCMP and various social agencies, but they say no one did anything.”  You can (more…)

ALERT: BC Premier says she doesn’t know about Public Guardian misconduct

 

Yesterday BC Premier Christy Clark responded to a caller’s question about the Public Guardian & Trustee on CBC Radio’s province-wide BC Almanac show:

 

CALLER JOANNE from Cowichan asked, “When is the government going to conduct a forensic, financial and policy review of the Public Guardian and Trustee?”

 

PREMIER CLARK responded:  “Hmmm. That’s not a question I’ve given a lot of thought to in the past… I haven’t been in receipt of a lot of complaints about the way the Public Trustee has worked.”

[to listen to the complete call-in show podcast, see link below]

Premier Clark’s response is misleading in the extreme.

She and the government have received scores of complaints from the public about blatant misconduct by the Office of the Public Guardian & Trustee.

Even the B.C. Ombudsperson, in a recent report to the entire legislature, rebuked the Public Guardian, saying that the Office of the Ombudsperson “began to investigate (the PGT) after complaints about how the province’s Public Guardian and Trustee had taken over the legal and financial affairs of thousands of people,” resulting in a report, “No Longer Your Decision,” provided to the Premier’s office in February 2013.

Seniors at Risk routinely receives complaints from people across British Columbia about the PGT. The documents provided to us reveal systemic wrong-doing, and shockingly abusive and negligent treatment of BC citizens by the Public Guardian & Trustee. These abuses of legal and human rights have been happening for years, and the B.C. government has been made aware of them, but apparently not Premier Christy Clark. Perhaps it is time the Premier was briefed.

Premier Clark concluded her response to the caller by saying:

“If you have some real concerns about that, can I ask you to send it to me so I can have a look at it and I’ll get back to you directly about it.”

Accept Premier Clark’s invitation!

Give the Premier an opportunity to learn more about the misconduct of the Public Guardian and Trustee. Let her know if you have had, or are having, a bad experience with the PGT, or if you know of others who have. Everyone should be concerned. These are our taxpayer dollars being spent, not to help, but to intimidate and harm B.C. citizens.

 

SEND A LETTER TO:

Premier Christy Clark
PO Box 9041 STN PROV GOVT,
Victoria, BC 
V8W 9E1
 

Or EMAIL your concerns to the manager of the Correspondence Branch of the Premier’s office at: Antoinette.DeWit@gov.bc.ca

And please SEND A COPY of your letter or email to Seniors at Risk:  contact@seniorsatrisk.org

Seniors at Risk will help ensure that the government doesn’t ignore your complaint – or the magnitude of the systemic abuse of citizens’ rights, freedoms and assets by the Public Guardian and Trustee.

 

2013-05-02 CBC call-in show Christy Clark-PGT podcast clip

Listen to the entire call-in show podcast here: http://www.cbc.ca/bcalmanac/#igImgId_42986

Scroll down the page on the right hand side to find the link to the show’s podcasts.

Then, scroll down the Featured Audio list to find Christy Clark takes questions on BC Almanac.

Caller Joanne’s question is near the end of the show, at about the 17:20 mark.

 

 

 
 
Here are just a few of stories that support the radio show caller’s plea to Premier Clark for (more…)

Public Guardian’s bait ‘n switch routine

Another in our series of letters from Stella about her experiences with public bureaucrats and health care providers as she seeks to protect her father Charlie who “lives” in the seniors care wing of a British Columbia hospital.
 

Stella Writes…

When we were first contacted by the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC, they let us know that it was just an informal hearing, that we didn’t need a lawyer.  Don’t believe it.  This is the first step to Adult Guardianship, a filthy legal contrivance it seems one never escapes from.

They said we had a choice, we could use and pay for PGT services, or we could look after our father’s money ourselves.

I had been Dad’s POA (power of attorney) for several years by then and found the job exhausting because he is financially illiterate (he had never managed money himself) but he liked to have his finances explained to him. As a result of having been prescribed benzodiazepines for 5 years, Dad no longer had the ability to form new memories, making my job very difficult.

I paid bills, prepared financial summaries and reviewed his bank statement with him every quarter, explaining each item line by line.  If the conversation drifted off for a while he would completely forget what we had just done and ask – “what’s going on with my bank statement?” – and I would start all over again, line by line.

I am a professional accountant with over 60 clients and Dad was by far my most difficult account.  The PGT’s offer to take this job on was very appealing even though the cost was high.  I was told to review the PGT’s website and phone the office if I had any questions, which I did.

First the Bait

I dialed the 1-800 number listed on the website and spoke to a woman called Maya.  My concern was that Dad’s money would be put at risk in the stock market if the PGT handled his affairs.  Maya assured me that if the family wanted, his money could be left in his Credit Union earning reliable but unspectacular interest, insured against loss – but only the PGT would have access to the account.  I was told we would receive quarterly statements from the PGT, that we would have some say over how his money was handled although they would pay the bills.

I presented this information to my dad along with the costs of PGT management.  We decided we would hire
them for a couple of years to give me a break just until the house was sold and emptied. I calculated it would cost about (more…)

Jean Wilder case in court today

 

Despite the efforts of Jean Wilder’s family and friends, and a letter-writing campaign by the public earlier this year, this 61-year-old woman is still being held in an Interior Health Authority (IHA) hospital with no apparent justifiable reason or legal authority.

 

In February 2012 Jean Wilder was transferred from the Invermere & District Hospital’s acute care department to an extended care unit (ECU) to recover from complications following surgery a month earlier. When Jean and her family raised concerns about the care she was receiving at the ECU, hospital staff suddenly detained Jean against her will, banned her family and friends, and refused to allow Jean to see a lawyer. See previously published stories.

Now, nine months later, Jean Wilder is still being held without any due process. The IHA has not provided Jean Wilder’s family with any information about why, or under what legislation, she is being forcibly detained without her consent. The Interior Health Authority also appears to be making all health care decisions for Jean Wilder, even though they have no lawful right to do this.

Jean Wilder’s voice and rights to her own life and liberty, now long ignored, will likely be completely snuffed out this week.

On December 12, 2012, a court in New Westminster, B.C., 800 kilometres and a 9 hour drive from Invermere, BC, will take 5 minutes to hear the case to declare Jean Wilder legally incapable.

Why and how did this happen?  The short answer is that she became an unwilling victim of elder abuse by the Interior Health Authority and the Public Guardian and Trustee. After Jean Wilder’s family and friends raised concerns about Jean’s care, hospital staff reported them to the B.C. Public Guardian & Trustee’s office (the PGT). From that moment (more…)

Update of previously reported case – Ajax Pickering Hospital

 

UPDATE Sep 9, 2013:  There’s been a new development in the case of the 69-year-old Toronto-area stroke patient that Seniors at Risk reported on last year.

In June 2013 the man’s wife launched a court appeal of the decision that had been rendered by the Consent and Capacity Board (CCB). The CCB confirmed that Marilyn Nelson is the legal substitute decision maker for her husband Arthur Hippe by virtue of him having appointed her to be his power of attorney for personal care. However, the CCB also ordered Ms. Nelson to consent to the doctors’s proposed treatment plan.

The latest court documents reveal the story.

_______________________

A previously reported case in Ontario has moved into the court room. The hospital, doctors and staff are named as parties in a civil suit brought by the spouse of a man who is being detained in a hospital against his will, and that of his spouse and power of attorney, and his family.

Court documents reveal violation of legal rights by the health care providers, as well as intimidation, coercion, threats and mistreatment of (more…)

Hospital “commissars” threaten to ban wife unless she agrees with doctors

 –––––––  Sep 13, 2012 | Related Article | Update of previously reported case – Ajax Pickering Hospital  Court affidavits and evidence reveal deception and intimidation by hospital, doctors and the Public Guardian and Trustee. –––––––

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 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 (formerly 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 physicians treating Arthur, including Dr. Romas Stas and 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!

The doctors did not agree with Marilyn that Zyprexa and other antipsychotic drugs were harmful to Arthur, and in a meeting with the doctors and other hospital personnel, Marilyn says the doctor 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 (more…)

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