Aged hospitalized with a number of infections was uncared for in nursing residence, kids say


An Alberta senior with dementia who was admitted to hospital with a number of critical infections suffered medical neglect at her retirement residence, her kids say.

Patricia Knebel, 74, was admitted to hospital on Christmas Day, 9 months after transferring to the Barrhead Persevering with Care Middle in Barrhead, 120 kilometers northwest of Edmonton.

Members of the family allege the care heart, run by Alberta Well being Companies, failed to observe and meet Knebel’s most elementary well being wants.

Alberta Well being Companies is investigating the household’s allegations. The household met with AHS management on January 19 and 23 to element their issues.

Critics say Knebel’s case illustrates the pressing want for presidency to deal with systemic issues associated to staffing and resident care in Alberta’s persevering with care services.

“They should be held accountable,” mentioned Bobi-Jo Knebel, one in every of Patricia’s 4 kids and her designated decision-maker. “We would like higher for mother and for the opposite residents.”

Her kids say Knebel, who doesn’t communicate, suffered from thrush (a yeast an infection within the mouth), a vaginal yeast an infection, a urinary tract an infection, a kidney an infection and a blood.

Her catheter was blocked, she had a fever and she or he was identified with dehydration, they are saying.

Bobi-Jo mentioned medical doctors advised the household they believed the urinary tract an infection had gone untreated for therefore lengthy that it had left Knebel septic.

His state of well being on the hospital is detailed within the official criticism presently being examined by well being authorities.

“She had a blocked catheter that gave her a urinary tract an infection. She additionally had a kidney an infection and she or he was septic. So of all of the infections, it was now in her blood,” Bobi-Jo mentioned. “On high of that, she had pneumonia and that was inflicting her to enter coronary heart failure,” she mentioned.

“It was riddled with infections, which stored getting worse.”

Knebel stays hospitalized in Barrhead.

Kari-An Knebel, a former nurse, does not perceive how her mom grew to become so sick whereas she was being handled or how the development of her infections went undetected by facility workers.

“Regardless that I wasn’t in healthcare, it was sunken and yellow. It was so dehydrated and filled with infections,” she mentioned. “One thing has to alter.”

In a press release to CBC, Alberta Well being Companies mentioned it has launched an inner investigation.

“All allegations of misconduct or negligence are completely investigated and reviewed,” AHS mentioned.

“We now have an moral, ethical {and professional} duty to respectfully take care of residents and guarantee their well-being.”

AHS declined to offer additional remark, citing affected person confidentiality.

Knebel’s household filed a criticism with Alberta’s Caregiver Safety workplace, asking the province to research. PPC investigators conduct neutral investigations underneath the Caretaker Safety Act.

Correspondence with the household, shared with CBC, reveals the PPC workplace has launched an extra investigation.

Well being Minister Adriana LaGrange and Alberta Well being officers declined to remark.

Sandra Azocar, a well being care advocate and vice-president of the Alberta Provincial Workers Union, mentioned the household’s allegations are troubling however not shocking. Alberta’s well being care services are chronically understaffed and oversight of high quality of care is weak, she mentioned.

Alberta Well being wouldn’t inform CBC what number of healthcare complaints are filed in Alberta every year, however Azocar mentioned he has heard related allegations of medical negligence from affected person households throughout the province.

“That is an unlucky human consequence of a system that regularly faces critical issues on the subject of the standard of care that seniors, Albertans with disabilities and susceptible Albertans obtain,” Azocar mentioned.

“This speaks very clearly to the scarcity of workers and dealing circumstances.”

Knebel kids are talking out in hopes of bettering oversight on the Barrhead facility and reforming a unbroken care system they are saying is failing.

“My poor mom, sitting alone in her room, in ache,” mentioned Andria Knebel, one other daughter.

“When was the final time they took his temperature?” When did she begin getting sick?

“It terrifies me once I’m older…There are such a lot of who’re in properties who haven’t got folks to advocate for, who haven’t got household.”

A woman in a blue striped shirt and blue jeans sits on the edge of a bed, smiling.
Patricia Knebel acquired an early prognosis of Alzheimer’s illness in 2016. She now requires around-the-clock care. (Andria Knebel)

Knebel was an avid botanist and lively neighborhood member earlier than being identified in 2016 with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

She lived with Bobi-Jo and his household till she suffered two seizures and broke each arms in a fall final April. She was admitted to hospital. A gastrostomy tube was inserted into her abdomen to complement her meals, fluids and drugs.

The identical month she was transferred to Barrhead Care Centre. The ability has 100 long-term care areas, designed for folks with advanced and unpredictable medical wants that require around-the-clock evaluation and therapy.

Her daughter acquired a name on Christmas morning

Bobi-Jo mentioned the household was unable to go to her for a number of weeks as a consequence of sickness, however hoped to deliver Knebel residence for a go to on Christmas Day. However that day, throughout a name from the well being heart, she was advised that her mom had suffered a number of seizures in her room.

The nurses promised to name the physician and ensure her mom was monitored, Bobi-Jo mentioned.

She rushed to the ability and located her mom alone in her room.

“She’s in her wheelchair. The door is closed and she or he’s shaking,” she mentioned. “Her eyes are rolling backwards and forwards in her head. She’s sweating. I contact her, she’s burning… she does not look good.

“Regardless that I wasn’t a nurse, I may clearly see one thing was unsuitable.”

Bobi-Jo mentioned she determined to name an ambulance herself and her mom was admitted to hospital.

She worries in regards to the long-term penalties on her mom’s well being.

“I don’t even know the outcomes but,” Bobi-Jo mentioned. “Is that this going to take us longer?”

In medical notes obtained by the household, facility workers wrote that Knebel was diaphoretic – sweating excessively – that morning and that she suffered a number of seizures in her wheelchair that afternoon .

The notes say Knebel was being monitored “as directed by the physician.” Her stability as a affected person was recorded as “medium danger” and it was famous that 911 was known as on the request of her daughter.

Notes from Dec. 22 point out she had indicators of a vaginal an infection and was given antifungal drugs, however she was thought of steady.

Recording notes from Dec. 20 point out her feeding tube had fallen out and was not instantly changed as a result of the shift employee was “not comfy” inserting a brand new one.

Repeated complaints

In the course of the 9 months she spent within the nursing residence, Knebel’s kids advised the CBC they grew more and more involved in regards to the facility’s capacity to offer acceptable care.

A sequence of emails to website managers element a sequence of complaints relationship again to Could. The household’s official criticism to the province additionally particulars their allegations.

Bobi-Jo alleges that her mom suffered a fall, that her lips had been typically chapped and bleeding, and that her drugs had been modified with out her information.

A feeding tube outlined in black.
On this {photograph} supplied by her household, Patricia Knebel’s feeding tube may be seen outlined in black. (Submitted by Andria Knebel)

The household alleges that on quite a few events, workers on the facility failed to offer enough and well timed hygiene care to Knebel.

In July, based on the household’s official criticism, workers did nothing for a number of days when open sores appeared on Knebel’s face.

Bobi-Jo mentioned the rash was examined a number of days later, after urging workers on the facility to name the physician. Assessments got here again constructive for staph an infection and shingles.

The household additional alleges that Knebel was not adequately hydrated, together with by way of her feeding tube, and that workers didn’t adequately doc fluid consumption and output.

Bobi-Jo claims the gastrostomy tube was not modified for months, even after it grew to become visibly soiled. {A photograph} supplied by the household reveals a tube rimmed in black.

After weeks of ready for the ability to accumulate alternative tubes, the household ordered their very own, her kids say. The household supplied CBC with e mail correspondence with website workers detailing their order in October.

“Too widespread”

Chris Gallaway, govt director of Pals of Medicare, mentioned workers at Alberta’s persevering with care facilities are overworked and underpaid.

Many years of underfunding and persistent understaffing have spelled catastrophe for the system, Gallaway mentioned.

“That is all too widespread in persevering with care and long-term care in our province,” he mentioned of Knebel’s case. “Folks fall by way of the cracks once you’re continuously understaffed.”

Though systemic issues in long-term care existed earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta did not study from harmful gaps found throughout the public well being disaster, he mentioned.

He pointed to a sequence of damning experiences from Alberta’s auditor normal detailing employee burnout and insufficient care early within the pandemic.

The province must legislate the minimal variety of hours for day by day care, regulate staffing ratios and undertake long-awaited laws on persevering with care, Gallaway mentioned.

“We all know there are structural issues and we all know we may resolve them if there was political will.”

In February 2023, the Alberta authorities launched Invoice 11, the Persevering with Care Act – laws it mentioned would make persevering with care oversight extra constant. The invoice was handed however didn’t enter into drive. Alberta Well being wouldn’t touch upon the timeline for implementing the regulation.

Azocar mentioned regulatory modifications ought to embody common website inspections and making certain particulars of affected person care investigations are made public. She mentioned the province also needs to restore the office of the elder’s advocate act as an unbiased monitoring physique.

“We have to sort out the issue on the root,” she mentioned. “If we don’t begin addressing these points, conditions like this can proceed to occur.”

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