Death investigation at nursing home

In Nova Scotia, the Health Department is investigating an incident at the High-Crest Sherbrooke Home for Special Care.

A 90-year-old woman, Jean Kaiser, fell and broke her hip. Although St. Mary’s Memorial Hospital was nearby, Mrs. Kaiser wasn't sent there because there was no one at the hospital who could take an X-ray. Because of this, the elderly woman was kept at the home over the weekend and given morphine for the pain.

Two days later, Mrs. Kaiser was X-rayed at St. Mary’s. After that, she was transferred to Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow for an operation. Four hours later she died.

Barry Kaiser, the son of the deceased woman, said that his mother languished in pain over the weekend. However, the owner of the nursing home is confident they will be exonerated after the investigation.

"The policies and procedures were in place and followed at the home," Shannon Stephenson said.

"There’s been a preliminary investigation of the event and I’m very confident that what’s going to come from that when the report comes out is that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the facility."

Mr. Stephenson's company runs five nursing homes in Nova Scotia. He didn’t say why Mrs. Kaiser wasn’t sent to Aberdeen Hospital when St. Mary’s wasn't available for X-rays. He just said that staffing shortages were a problem; at both hospitals and nursing homes.

"In general, staffing at different facilities can be an issue," he said "In the whole industry, we’re looking at issues when it comes to lack of professional help right across the board. It doesn’t mean there’s bad care, it just means there’s some challenges there."

Phil Hughes was formerly a chairman of a seniors’ advocacy group. He said that we need answers to what happened to Mrs. Kaiser and why getting her to a hospital took so long.

Maybe there was no option other than to keep her at the home. In that case, the hospitals are responsible for what happened.

According to Mr. Hughes, High-Crest nursing homes are well-run facilities.

SOURCE: Lee, Pat. "'No wrongdoing' by dead senior’s nursing home." 22 July 2009.