World War II ended September 1945 when Pacific surrender documents were signed. Precisely nine months later I was born in Vancouver and my future one and only wife arrived in Powell River. That puts us in the front ranks of post war baby-boomers, people that a few posh folks believe will make Canada’s healthcare system unsustainable. (That’s code for more expensive.)
I don’t intend to join the bleedin’ choir invisible for some time yet but I have been examining the issues of eldercare in British Columbia. I fear the province treats domestic violence and eldercare more with public relations puffery than effective action. After a friend was victim of serious spousal assault, I paid attention to responses of police and courts. The service received by this mother and her children fell far short of that due under guidelines of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. I tried to communicate with the RCMP to inquire about the gap between actual services provided to victims and that which is theoretically available. The RCMP media office refused to take questions. In an off the record interview, a former senior Ministry official in Victoria admitted that police are intractable and many officers on the front lines actively resist changes to policies involving family violence.
The PSSG Ministry has much carefully composed bumf online resulting from lengthy and expensive consultations with experts. To a person untouched by real world experiences, the policies give comfort but, in reality, they are nothing more than goals of bureaucrats. Police and provincial court judges do things their own way and the gap between real and theoretical responses is immense.
In reviewing these broad issues, I stumbled across a shocking story about a sad situation in British Columbia. Oddly, I didn’t read the story in any publication here; I found it online at CTWatchdog.com, an American site founded by George Gombossy, an award winning investigative journalist with long experience. Granny Snatching: Narcotic Poisoning – A Bitter Prescription was written by Ron Winter, a decorated Vet who has written extensively on elder abuse.
The story is about 88-year old Kathleen Palamarek, rescued recently by ambulance paramedics after suffering narcotic poisoning from morphine administered at a large residential care home in Victoria. Mrs. Palamarek’s daughter had called 911 after finding her mother comatose at the care home. The patient was removed by paramedics for emergency hospital treatment, apparently over the objections of the institution charged with caring for her.
After acute treatment, the patient was returned to the Lodge at Broadmead over objections of her daughter, who with her husband offers a home where Palamarek could live, which independent healthcare professionals have testified Mrs. Palamarek is capable of doing. The case is complex but my initial examination indicates that people with major financial conflicts want her kept at Broadmead and have used a dangerously broad section of the BC Mental Health Act to eradicate her civil rights.
Even worse, the Act is so broad that it could be used to imprison anyone if it is alleged that, without care, the person could suffer “physical deterioration.” Frankly, as a 64-year old with arthritis, I could be removed from home by that clause. It is hard to imagine that relatively recent section could survive a court challenge but it is operative and is being abused.
The trouble is, as Mrs. Palamarek and her daughter discovered, courts take a leisurely pace to resolve any issue before them. Judges prefer to leave things as they are until all arguments have been heard and long periods of review ended. For this patient, the delays in regaining her freedom are appalling and the people she is fighting against have an interest in keeping her in care, by which they gain financially.
Read through the Granny Snatching article written by Ron Winter and circulate this story as widely as possible. I will continue making inquiries, trying to learn more about this case. Unfortunately, the courts are immune from transparency. Supporters of Mrs. Palamarek don’t know if they will wait another month or another year. In the meantime, one pioneer citizen may be denied freedom against her will and against her best interests. I wish could suggest a course of action but I think that authorities involved want it to stay out of public view and have placed barriers to settlement that are unreasonable, unfair and aimed at protecting private interests. You might help by emailing your MLA, asking for an urgent review of the Palamarek case and of the BC Mental Health Act.