ÎLE-PERROT- Hanna Czarnecki has been living in a wheelchair for over a decade.
Thirteen years ago, a car accident left her a quadriplegic, meaning her legs are paralyzed and she has limited use of her hands.
“I need help with hygiene, I need help with dressing, also transferring into my wheelchair and my food is prepared but putting it on the table so I can eat later on,” she said.
She gets most of that help from her local CLSC.
Caregivers drop by two to three times a day, everyday for help.
But a few weeks ago, as a CLSC employee was helping Czarnecki transfer from her bed into her wheelchair, she took a bad fall.
“Before I could react, she pulled me by the arm and that immediately pushed me forward and I slid off the board and I saw my foot was in a terrible position,” she said.
Czarnecki only found out later that her foot was badly broken, but she doesn’t blame the worker.
She said the employee isn’t around enough to know any better and that’s part of the problem she has with the clinic.
“I am difficult, I require a lot of help,” she said.
“So, I should have a group of experienced auxiliaries.”
Czarnecki and her daughter said the CLSC isn’t consistent with the staff they send to help out – a concern the family said they’ve brought up in the past.
“Because they were sending workers who were not familiar with my mother, who were not able to communicate in English, we felt like her safety was compromised,” said Czarnecki’s daughter, Anna.
Just before Christmas, Czarnecki’s husband died, which is why she relies so much on the local clinic these days.
“Seeing her go through that just ripped me apart,” said Anna.
“For my whole family, just to see her in more pain was the last thing we wanted.”
As for the CLSC, representatives said although they try, they can’t accommodate everyone’s wishes.
“We’re trying to make the teams as stable as we can, so a person can have always the same auxiliary, but it can’t be 100 per cent the same person every time,” said CLSC spokesperson Chantal Huot.
The clinic has launched an investigation into the fall, which is still ongoing.
“An accident in the health centre and in our institution is always one too many,” said Huot.
“It’s important for us to know how we could avoid this in the future.”
Czarnecki and her daughter said it isn’t the workers who are at fault.
“This is not about pointing fingers, about saying one person made a big mistake,” said Anna.
“This is a systemic issue that we think needs to be addressed at a higher level.”