TORONTO — Ontario’s health minister says that until there is more proof, he does not believe there are systemic problems with families accessing home care nurses across the province.
Samadhi Mora Severino, the mother of a three-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, said her son Kian has complex medical needs, which home nurses help with — when they show up.
A recent shift was supposed to start at 10 a.m., “And the nursing agency calls me at 10:10 in the morning to let me know that the nurse wasn’t showing up,” she said.
Mora Severino said that on another occasion Kian was having a choking fit, but the nurse was in another room and didn’t respond.
“I’m waking up running and you’re in this room with your headphones on,” she said.
Another mother, Marcy White, had similar experiences, pointing out that the situations can sometimes be a matter of life and death.
“If Jacob can’t breathe, then he can’t live,” she said, adding that multiple nursing shifts have gone unfilled — a look at January’s schedule reveals gaps about 40 per cent of the time.
“There’s no accountability, there’s no oversight when things go wrong.”
The Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres maintains that only 0.025 per cent of shifts go unfilled.
But Global News has also had emails from another half dozen families.
When Global News went to Health Minister Eric Hoskins with questions, he said he wasn’t familiar with individual cases.
Hoskins added he can’t comment unless each family gives permission to release their private medical information, at which point he would look into each individual case.
When asked why he wouldn’t comment on the bigger issue, that impacts many families, the minister responded by saying he was “not accepting your argument that there’s a bigger problem.”
In the 24 hours since Global News aired its first story, multiple people have emailed similar stories that detailed allegations of nurses with inadequate training, or being unable to get a nurse at all.
The issue doesn’t appear to extend to just children either, as several people also emailed with concerns over home nursing for adult patients.
Almost everyone who reached out to Global News said they have reached a crisis point.
“You can only tolerate so much,” said Mora Severino.
The minister repeatedly reiterated that families have to sign releases allowing their information to be shared, and only then would he be able to follow up.
“I’m prepared to work with them to understand what challenges they are having,” he said.