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REPORTING · 26th January 2011
Walter McFarlane
What is the current standard of Multilevel Care in Kitimat? This was the question asked by several family members at the Kitimat Health Advocacy Group meeting on January 15th.

“I have some specific issues in Multilevel care,” said John Hall. “They’ve cut back the cleaning, that is a concern to everyone with somebody living there. The Provincial standard is what? Kitimat should have their own standards. They say it’s a provincial standard and that’s what they’re going to go by. To me it’s not an acceptable answer.”

He said he has brought his concerns forward to Jonathon Cooper in the past.

One woman said there were problems with cleanliness in the hospital itself. The multipurpose room where the meeting had been scheduled was covered in coffee stains when people came in that morning, prompting one of the attendants to spit on napkin and clean them up.

It was brought up the Catholic Church has a service in the dining room of multilevel care. However, there has been food on the floor when the service was about to start. Sometimes, the people who attend the service have to clean it up.

Finally, it was brought forward about a resident spilling liquid on the floor of his room. The speaker was uncertain whether it was apple juice or urine. However, it remained there for four days before being washed away by housekeeping.

The woman said she had read in a letter from Cooper to the newspaper that people would not notice the cuts to housekeeping. However, she has noticed the house keepers crying because they are so burdened down with work. She said they are given 5 minutes to clean a room, including the bathroom.

Dorothy Schiller, the NHA representative at the meeting, said the housekeeping was based on provincial benchmarks and the facilities were above the benchmark and the decision was made to bring the housekeeping back into alignment with rest of the province.

Luella Froess stated it does not bode well for the rest of the province. She said she has seen a lot of unsanitary conditions within the hospital and it was a shame there was not government rep there as had been promised.

The cleaning of the hospital was brought forth because there was food, dirt and a piece of red cord left in the corner of the room.

“There are some issues, the food in multilevel care,” said Hall. “The food situation in multilevel care for people who are 100 years old and in that time of their life is atrocious. They have no choice in what they get to eat, they are being fed things like pork and beans at times, stew. They have no choice in what they are going to eat. […] You get to a certain stage in your life and little things are important, and one of the little things is being able to make choices.”

He said while he understands multilevel care should not be a restaurant, the people living there should be able to have some choice in what they eat because they do not like some foods. He said his mother in law is not eating well because she does not like the food.

Froess stated this has been a problem in multilevel care for some time. They do not get a choice. In addition, the portions are so large there is a lot of wasted food. Residents eat 2-3 bites and the rest is thrown out. She referred to the food as bland. The family council is sending a letter to those involved.

“One of the few things these people look forward too is a decent meal and they’re not getting it,” said Froess.

Another problem is the coffee. Volunteers cannot bring coffee into the rooms so the residents now receive cold coffee. Schiller said the food is always an issue in multilevel care. She felt they should be doing better with the meals and she was trying to do something about it. She also expressed the inability for the volunteers to deliver the food and drink to be a union issue.

On the flipside, one woman said her husband cannot swallow some of the food which he is given, even if it has been pureed. When she asked for something which he can eat, she was told they could not offer the choice as they were on a budget.

Schiller said she has worked in places where there is a choice between two hot entrees.

“The activities director had some medical issues; she was off for quite a while. There is no replacement for her so the old people sit around all day with no activities to do. There is no contingency plan for this sort of thing,” said Hall.

Froess pointed out the loss of activity would result in people getting sicker because they do not have someone directing them to move around. However, it was reported the activities have returned to multilevel care.

“Our single biggest issue, and I can’t get a straight answer for this question and Northern Health is here so I’m going to ask the question. What justification is there for a 48% increase in the monthly fee that people have to pay and I get told: ‘That’s the formula.’ That’s not an answer,” said Hall.

Schiller explained they were given the criteria and the parameters to work within. She explained this was based on 80% of net income minus income taxes. This is what is charged and it varied on people’s income. She suggested speaking to a financial advisor to discuss estate planning.

She explained there was a 50% increase last year and a 48% increase this year. It was set by the Province, not by Northern Health. The money covers the room and board and the province pays for the nursing care. A bed costs roughly $225 a day.

Schiller did point out there was good news for multilevel care. They were in the process of purchasing new equipment including a new whirlpool spa, new tubs, and Bariatrich chairs for people who are over a certain weight. She said they were experiencing a trend of people who were overweight through out North America.