An elderly woman from Winnipeg transferred to a hospital in western Manitoba two months ago wants to return home.
Joan Hodgson, 80, was moved 350 kilometres northwest of the city to Russell Health Centre after suffering a broken leg.
The move comes amid a patient transfer protocol implemented by the health-care system to free up space in hospitals for both COVID and non-COVID patients.
But it’s led to isolation for patients who are separated from family and friends.
Hodgson was admitted to Concordia Hospital on Dec. 20 where she stayed until Jan. 12, when she was moved without any notice.
“I never chose to be here but the hospital in Winnipeg for some reason decided to put me on a plane and send me up to Russell,” Hodgson said Tuesday from Russell hospital.
That’s where she’s been ever since. But Hodgson wants to return to Winnipeg and her daughter Kate who lives in Vancouver wants her mom back in her home health region, too.
“It’s just not acceptable so we want her back immediately,” Kate said.
Kate said to make matters worse, her brother from Winnipeg, who was helping care for their mom, died unexpectedly after she was moved to Russell. Joan also missed out on an in-person specialist appointment, which Kate said was previously delayed twice, before finally being held via Telehealth because there was no transportation available to get her mom to Winnipeg and then back to Russell.
Her mom’s also been separated from friends and other family members in Winnipeg due to COVID-19 visitation protocols and a COVID outbreak at Russell Health Centre.
“Her mental health has not been good,” Kate said. “She’s been really confused and her son died over this time. She’s not seen anyone she knows since December 20th.”
Hodgson sent a letter Sunday to Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon outlining her concerns. Gordon said Tuesday decisions about when a patient can return home are made by clinicians in both the patient’s home health region and the region they’re hospitalized in.
“They’re talking all the time with the care team and the care providers about the movement of that patient within the province,” Gordon said.
Shared Health said bed availability across the health-care system is closely monitored so patients who’ve been transferred can return as space becomes available.
As of Tuesday, 310 patients had been transferred as part of the protocol including nine patients last week but Shared Health didn’t say how many have been moved back.
“So it seems like there’s no one in charge of getting these folks back that were sent out of Winnipeg during COVID,” Kate said.
But she spoke with health care providers Tuesday and was encouraged by her discussions.
“I think it was the first time I heard someone say it was not okay that she’s four-and-a-half hours from Winnipeg and her home community,” Kate said.
She said the family has been promised a plan to get her mom back to Winnipeg.
Shared Health said poor road conditions and unfavourable weather this winter have resulted in some transports being postponed.
A spokesperson said prior to any transfer, care teams review a patient’s needs to make sure the hospital they’re going to can meet immediate and ongoing care requirements.
But Kate also has concerns about her mom’s admission to Concordia Hospital. Kate said her mom was initially sent home after being taken to urgent care by ambulance.
The next day, Dec. 20, Kate said a home care worker found her mom on the floor of her apartment and only then was she admitted.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said while it can’t discuss a patient’s care, it has reviewed the situation with the family and a plan is underway to determine the next steps.
Kate said she’ll return to Manitoba this month and hopes her mom will be back in her home health region by the time she arrives.