Another B.C. family has come forward with allegations of substandard care at Surrey Memorial Hospital, this time involving the death of a loved one.
“It is not acceptable she died the way she did,” April Cook told Global News.
“It was not acceptable to me there was no continuity of care, nobody seemed to know what was going on.”
Cook’s 78-year-old mother Meryl Storey died on Feb. 8 following a three-week stay at Surrey Memorial Hospital. She had been transferred there after a week at Delta Hospital with pneumonia.
“She lived for her children and her grandchildren and her family. They were everything to her, absolutely everything,” Cook said.
“It’s really hitting home because she’s gone, she’s actually gone. And it still catches me off guard.”
Cook’s story comes in the wake of growing concerns about “crisis” conditions at the hospital, and following open letters from doctors in several departments warning of unsafe or substandard conditions.
Physicians have reported congestion in the emergency room and a shortage of admitting doctors.
Cook, a former nurse, acknowledges her mother was sick, but questions whether the quality of care her mother experienced contributed to her death.
“That’s a question I ask myself all the time, I truly don’t know the answer to that,” she said.
“I go between if she’d gotten the right care, at the very beginning, at the right place, would she be here now? And if she wasn’t going to be, could she have at least been allowed to die with dignity? And could she at the very, very least have not been allowed to suffer?”
Cook said her mother was initially admitted to the thoracic ward where she received “amazing care.”
But within two days, the senior was transferred to a medical ward where some patients were sick with COVID-19, she said.
“Which was shocking, because she’s got a collapsed lung, she’s got emphysema, and she’s got two chest tubes. She’s got trouble breathing, but we’re going to put her on a medical ward where they’ve got COVID patients?” she said.
“It just didn’t make sense. And of course, things started to deteriorate when she was there.”
Cook said her mother was unable to feed herself, and began to suffer from malnutrition — with one doctor allegedly even saying she was starving.
However, nobody came and tried to feed the ailing senior, according to Cook. In fact, one staff member, who she later learned was a nursing student, even became angry with Storey for not eating, Cook alleges.
Storey was moved five times at the hospital, which Cook described as “filthy.”
As her condition worsened, she developed pancreatitis with necrosis and a large bedsore — and developed excruciating pain.
“She suffered so much, the pain was so immense,” Cook said.
“We actually had to beg the doctor in the ICU: ‘You have got to control her pain, you have got to do something for the pain, she can’t go on like this.'”
In a statement to Global News, Fraser Health said it couldn’t discuss specific cases, but that its Patient Care Quality Office had reviewed Storey’s “care journey” and shared its findings with the family directly.
“We express our sincere condolences to the patient’s family as they grieve the loss of their loved one,” it said.
But in a response to a complaint lodged by the family, the health authority acknowledged serious concerns.
“There is a lack of documenting on the medicine units about your mother’s pain and the medicines that were given to help her manage the pin,” the response stated.
“We are very sorry about this lack of recording that could have led to our care staff not fully understanding or communicating her care needs.”
In response to an incident in which Storey was left with apple sauce and crushed pills on her face, the health authority acknowledged, “this is not the standard of care we want to achieve.”
Cook said her family no longer trusts the care at Surrey Memorial, and plans to take their concerns to a review board for an impartial investigation into Storey’s final days.
“(We’re) completely dissatisfied,” she said. “At the end of the day, it felt like my word against their word.”
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