Abuse alleged at Nova Scotia Hospital’s Emerald Hall

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Abuse alleged at Nova Scotia Hospital’s Emerald Hall
WATCH ABOVE: An incident that happened in September involving a patient with severe autism is being investigated. It happened at Nova Scotia Hospital's Emerald Hall, and there are claims of more problems in the province. Global's Steve Silva reports – Nov 16, 2016

Matthew Meisner, a patient at Nova Scotia Hospital‘s Emerald Hall who has severe autism, was abused by caregivers, according to a Nova Scotia health department preliminary investigation report released by Meisner’s mother, Tracey.

On Sept. 3, Meisner is said to have been banging his head against plexiglass while he was covered in feces before caregivers attended to him.

“The person implicated denied that the patient’s head was covered; however, the person implicated documented that the patient was spitting and the face had to be covered by a pillowcase to clean and assess the patient,” the report read.

Meisner was reportedly restrained to a “timeout chair” for two hours.  According to a release from Advocating Parents of Nova Scotia, “the restraint policy for the facility was not followed.”

The report also said two witnesses heard one of the people who responded to Meisner say, “That little f**ker,” along with, “I wonder if his s**t is retarded.”

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According Meisner’s former developmental worker, Jeff Kroll, this treatment is indicative of a pattern of abuse at the facility. He says he witnessed a similar situation involving Meisner in 2004.

“[The caregiver] lost his patience with Matthew, walked in the room, kicked him in the face and when Meisner attempted to get back up, he kicked him in the chest,” Kroll said.

Kroll said that situation has since been resolved.

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Brenda Hardiman, chair of Advocating Parents of Nova Scotia, said over the phone that Meisner should be moved closer to home with the supports he needs. She also said an internal investigation into the unit’s policies and procedures should be done.

“We have seen it in other areas across the province,” she said. “People are people and sometimes people are working in an industry that they shouldn’t be working in.”

The Nova Scotia Health Authority said in a statement that it can’t speak to specific cases but “takes any allegations of abuse extremely seriously and is absolutely committed to providing safe, high quality and respectful care possible for all of its patients, in all its environments, including Emerald Hall.”

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Jason MacLean, president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, said that there are safety problems at the hospital for patients, and the government should increase the number of staff.

He said the government should also “look into this situation where a lot of our members are being accused of wrongdoing. We’re quite confident that they haven’t been, and we sympathize with the mother.”

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