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HomeNewsPG woman files complaint against Northern Health following husband's death

PG woman files complaint against Northern Health following husband’s death

Between 2019 and 2021, the number of quality care complaints in Northern Health is on par with the other four health authorities and falls below the provincial average.

That’s according to the Ministry of Health.

They added while the data for the 2021/22 fiscal year for NH is incomplete, the ministry did confirm there has been a slight increase in complaints year-over-year but is not being considered a significant fluctuation.

However, a Prince George woman has filed a complaint after she claims her husband wrongfully passed away while receiving care at UHNBC.

In an interview with Vista Radio, Sarah Reinhold stated her husband William passed away at the age of 70 on February 11th.

She mentioned her husband was admitted back on February 3rd with what medical personnel deemed was a heart attack.

“He waited two and a half hours with no pain medication and no doctor in sight. I created hell during the evening and asked for a doctor otherwise I was going to get my lawyer. A doctor finally came to see him and was admitted to what they thought was a heart attack, which turned out to be a blood clot on his lung.”

“Everything seemed to be going well and we were hoping he was going to be discharged.”

(University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC) | My PG staff)

According to Sarah, William had a full code order, which means if a person’s heart stopped beating and/or they stopped breathing, all resuscitation procedures would be provided to keep him alive.

“Everybody we knew has the copy of the full code order if anything happens where he is. The nursing staff and the nurse in charge said ‘well, you do know that if we release him we can’t action the full code order and we need to downgrade it to a DNR (do not resuscitate) and we both turned around and said no. These are his wishes (William’s) as he wants full code.”

On the following Friday (February 11th), William was ready to be discharged from UHNBC and his medication was subsequently sent to his local pharmacy. A short time later Reinhold fell at the hospital and stayed in care.

”I found out the results of the fall and spoke to my husband between 5 and 6:15 that night and he was OK and very chatty. I then got a phone call over an hour later to say he was dead,” added Sarah.

Sarah returned to UHNBC that evening and noted William’s eyes were wide open, his mouth was closed and his food tray was still in front of him with another person inside his room.

“I lost it,” added Reinhold.

“I asked for a doctor to come and see me, no doctor came and I refused to leave and I said you are not moving him until you bring the doctor over. The nursing staff said they had to move him and left that night. I called the next morning and was told the doctor may call me if he had time. I said he better call me and then inquired to see if I could come down and arrange for a proper viewing hoping he was in a better-dignified state.”

Sarah was then told that the morgue was closed on the weekend and asked what they did with recently deceased bodies.

According to Reinhold, the response she received was less than satisfactory.

“Oh, we take the bodies down there ourselves and we shove them in the freezer. I said pardon me, you mean you took my husband down there on his own and you shoved his body? About an hour later the doctor called me back and called my husband a frequent flier and then proceeded to tell me he only had 30 days to live.”

“I asked him when did you decide this? And then he said last week before we had the family meeting. I responded and said don’t you think you should have told us and have the right to decide how he dies and what kind of care he gets.”

Reinhold added a complaint was filed with Northern Health’s Quality Care office where she added a response has been slow to this point.

“I ended up having to report the death to the Coroner’s office myself because the hospital refused to report it and we are waiting for the autopsy results to come through.”

She mentioned the death was not COVID-related as William was double vaccinated and boosted.

The BC Coroners Service issued a statement to Vista Radio:

We can confirm that our investigation into this death remains open, and as such am unable to provide any specific information at this time.

Generally speaking, the amount of time required for a coroner to acquire medical records varies based on a variety of factors, including the urgency of the investigation.

Northern Health also issued the following statement on Reinhold’s passing.

Northern Health offers its sincere condolences to the family of the individual, for their loss. But we cannot comment on or confirm details of individual care concerns, for privacy reasons.

NH has clear processes for individuals and their loved ones to raise care concerns and to have those concerns addressed. If complainants are not satisfied with the response to their concerns, there are options for seeking to follow-up review, including BC’s Patient Care Quality Review Board.

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