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Family calls for better care at Cariboo Memorial Hospital

The wife and daughter of a man who spent three weeks in hospital say they worry for others
Wyn Parry died on February 19, 2024, four days after he was released from Cariboo Memorial Hospital. Family is speaking out about the care he received in his final stay at the facility. (Photo submitted)

When Sian Parry’s father Wyn Parry was admitted to Cariboo Memorial Hospital in January, she expected it to be like the times he’d been there before.

“He was a ‘frequent flyer’ in the hospital,” said Sian, adding each time after a hospital stay, her father had rebounded for two to three months.

During his previous stays, they had no issues with the care he received.

“Eventually we knew we were going to lose my dad,” she said, but this time, the stay at the hospital was different, including his discharge, only days before his death.

Wyn was admitted to the hospital this time with pneumonia and had stage four kidney failure, but had until then, been able to do everything himself.

The 85-year-old was also legally blind, but could feed himself once he was shown the food and utensils were put in his hands.

“He fought to the end to be independent,” said his wife Pam Parry.

Despite being somewhat capable though, Sian said her father did not receive adequate care in his final stay at the hospital, and she lost faith in the system her father Wyn so strongly believed in, after his career as a male nurse for nearly four decades.

“He still believed in a system that let him down,” said Sian.

Though he was blind and weak and his movements were slow due to his failing kidneys, Sian said her dad’s mind was sharp, yet she saw him decline during his nearly three week stay in the hospital.

“The things he was subjected to were just horrible,” said Sian.

She described arriving to visit and finding her father in his own feces, or left with his food tray out of reach and him not aware it was there.

Sian and Pam said Wyn lost 34 pounds during his last stay in the hospital, even though Sian and her mom Pam were going every day.

Sian said she asked the nurses to write on his board he was blind so staff would know he needed help to find his food so he could eat.

Despite the challenges, initially, Sian said the family tried to make do and not to complain.

“My dad was the easiest going person,” she said.

But Sian said she and her mom continued arriving to new concerns.

They would find garbage cans with dirty human diapers placed right next to her dad’s bed.

He was having nose bleeds due to blood thinners, leaving his bedding and clothing spotted with blood.

“The final straw for me was the blood in the oxygen mask,” said Sian, who arrived to find her father with blood all over his face.

In addition, Sian said her father asked for a shower throughout his stay as he was a fastidious man about personal hygiene.

Her father only received one shower, until the day he was discharged, when he finally received a second shower.

But Sian and Pam said they were not told anything other than “he’s good to go” when Pam arrived the morning he was discharged with no notice, despite Pam seeking out the doctor and asking if there were any instructions for his release.

Two days later, they said they called paramedics when her father worsened once again.

When they arrived, the paramedics reportedly told them Wyn may not last much longer and transporting him to the hospital may not be good either. Wyn also begged not to go back to the hospital, which Sian attributed to the conditions during his final stay.

Surprised Wyn was in his final stages, the two women said when they asked for palliative care support to help keep Wyn comfortable, they were told this was not available to them because there was no directive from a physician.

Wyn Parry died at home on Family Day, Feb. 19, at 6:20 a.m.

When the ambulance arrived to take Wyn’s body away, there was yet one more frustration for the family.

Without a family physician or a coroner to sign the death certificate, the ambulance took the body to the morgue, where Wyn’s remains sat at the hospital.

Sian said they had to wait four days to finally have his remains released to the funeral home. “That is the last place my dad wanted to be,” said Sian, with tears in her eyes.

“When your heart is aching, it would be nice if things went smoother,” she said of this final challenge.

Karen Cooper, executive director, clinical operations, Cariboo/South Cariboo for Interior Health, said quality of care is a priority at Cariboo Memorial Hospital and Interior Health, and they welcome the opportunity to work with the family to address their concerns.

“First and foremost, I want to extend my condolences to this family at the passing of their loved one,” said Cooper.

“We recognize this is a difficult and stressful time for them, and we appreciate them bringing their concerns to our attention.”

Cooper went on to note how about 80 per cent of the permanent positions for the inpatient unit at Cariboo Memorial Hospital are currently filled.

She said this is similar to other regional facilities as Interior Health is working on targeted recruitment for Williams Lake.

This story comes only shortly after a similar story was brought to light in March in the B.C. legislature by Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson, who shared the story of the late Lee Butler.

READ MORE:MLA calls out conditions at Cariboo Memorial Hospital

Butler also faced similar challenges according to his family.

His daughter Sheila Butler reported coming to visit him every day and at one point finding him trying to hold himself up out of his own waste.

Both Butler and Sian Parry said they wanted to bring their concerns to light because while their fathers were in the hospital, they were able to be there helping them, but many other patients did not have this support.

Patients and their family members can email or call 1-877-442-2001 to submit their concerns to the Patient Care Quality Office for formal review.

Overnight Monday, April 29, 2024, the emergency department was closed for the second time in recent months at CMH due to unavailability of nurses.

READ MORE: Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Doerkson calls situation at CMH a crisis, demands government action

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

I moved back to my hometown of Williams Lake after living away and joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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