Part 5: Families with issues over home nursing care in Ontario say things not getting better

By: Christina Stevens

TORONTO — Weeks ago Marcy White shared her concerns with Global News about home nursing care for her son.

Thirteen-year-old Jacob Trossman knows exactly what’s going on around him but a neurogenerative disorder has robbed him of his ability to move or talk, leaving him especially vulnerable when things go wrong with home nursing care.

White told Global News about problems with getting nurses to fill shifts and incompetencies, and when other families revealed similar stories, we took their concerns to the health minister.

“Let my ministry work with the particular individuals,” said Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins on March 7.

He said that to investigate further, families would have to give their local Community Care Access Centres permission to share their their information with the Minister’s office.

White was the first of a dozen parents to do so, but said she hasn’t heard anything suggesting an investigation was underway since.

“Not a word,” she said, adding that instead, there have been more problems including alleged mistakes by nurses.

She said somehow more than five dozen of the wrong pills ended up in a bottle of Baclofen, which is used to treat muscle spasticity. The pills she said she found mixed in were Domperidone, for reflux.

White demanded an investigation and her CCAC concluded that it did “not believe that incorrect medication was ingested by Jacob.”

“But there really is no way to know because they have not been able to identify who did it and when it happened,” said White. “It’s terrifying.”

She insists the problems she has had with getting nursing shifts filled and quality of care are part of a larger systemic issue plaguing multiple families.

More than 50 parents have shared similar concerns with Global News.

The health minister’s office sent a follow up email to Global News saying that due to privacy issues, they could not go to the CCACs with a list of people who gave permission for the agency to share their information with the minister’s office.

After being denied an interview with the minister, Global News spoke with Hoskins at an unrelated press conference, who reassured families they will be investigating the complaints.

“I’ve asked the ministry to work with the CCACs,” said Hoskins.

Sheila Jennings, who has studied home nursing care extensively, said the minister should focus on the bigger bureaucratic issue of why shifts aren’t being filled.

“The minister’s response was effectively a way of dodging having to address the issue. I think an audit would be a really good idea,” said Jennings, a PhD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School.

White said a lack of accountability is putting lives at risk.

“The complaints, the issues that we have, as many times as we go through the proper channels to get them resolved — they just don’t get resolved.”