Disabled Sudbury woman to get home care restored
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 28, 2009 6:16PM EST
TORONTO - A woman in Sudbury, Ont., suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease who has been without home care for more than two months will soon receive the treatment she needs.
Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen, 42, has been relying on friends and family to help her, but needs the professional help of a home-care nurse to change her adult diaper and feeding tube and to bathe her.
She also has Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, which can make her behave erratically, so home-care nurses refused to deal with her, the woman's advocates say.
When she was still receiving care, the nurses deemed her behaviour to be part of an unsafe work environment, so they refused to provide her with care, said Ontario NDP health critic France Gelinas.
The two other contracted, for-profit nursing agencies in the area also would not provide Mettinen-Kekalainen with home care, Gelinas said.
In Ontario, community care access centres assess a client's home-care needs and contract for-profit nursing agencies to provide the services.
Gelinas stepped in and spoke with the North East Community Care Access Centre on Mettinen-Kekalainen's behalf. After a lengthy conference call this week, she said a solution was reached.
Mettinen-Kekalainen, the centre and one of the agencies that had been refusing care came to an agreement they were all satisfied with, Gelinas said.
"They basically bent over backward to try to find a creative, innovative solution," she said.
Care for Mettinen-Kekalainen will resume Monday.
Now that the matter is settled, Ontario needs to take a hard look at its home-care system, Gelinas said.
"In the short-term I wanted to get Minna some care," she said.
"We've achieved that goal and that was the prime motivator, but you have to look back and learn from those tragic incidents as to how do you change things so it never happens again."
Former Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris brought in competitive bidding for home care in the 1990s in an effort to reduce the cost for taxpayers, Gelinas said.
Before that, the Victorian Order of Nurses and other charitable organizations had government funding and provided excellent home care, Gelinas said. Now, the for-profit companies Gelinas is aware of pay low wages and have no benefits or pension plans, which does little to attract top-quality nurses, she said.
"There has to be policy change in the way home-care services are delivered in this province," Gelinas said.
"Otherwise there will be more and more Minnas out there, and this is not acceptable."