The courts have ruled more than 15 days in solitary is cruel and inhumane. 75 days for mother-in-law and counting

Jun 5th, 2020

My mother-in-law is 85 years of age and afflicted by dementia. She was in Hillcrest Reactivation Centre in Toronto following a transfer from Toronto Western Hospital (UHN) after recovering from a broken hip while awaiting transfer to a long term care facility. Hillcrest is neither a hospital, though affiliated with UHN, nor a long term care centre. The ban on family visitation was already in effect when she went there, but my wife was granted 30 minutes (!) to help her mom get sorted on the morning of the transfer. She witnessed crowded conditions in an old building, 4 patients to a room, PSWs with no masks or other PPE, and a sense of an overwhelmed staff and facility. It didn’t turn out well.

My mother in law contracted COVID-19 and was transferred back to Toronto Western. Twice, doctors there told us to expect the worst. She lapsed into a semi-coma state, slept perhaps 95% of the time and refused food. We were told she would not recover. This lasted for weeks. We were still unable to visit or assist her in person in any way.

Remarkably, she woke up, started eating and is now recovered from COVID, having had two negative tests. Regrettably, she is still afflicted by dementia, has her good and bad days, and remains completely without physical contact from her daughter, the only immediate family member here. It has been more than 75 days since we have seen her in person, with no end in sight. Where she goes from here remains uncertain.

The courts in this Province have ruled that any more than 15 days in solitary confinement is cruel and inhumane treatment, this for convicted felons, much less beloved seniors whose only crime is old age and illness. What can be done to reverse this senseless and unnecessary policy that stomps on the legislated rights of families and leaves our beloved parent to spend perhaps her last days in isolation? And she is one who has survived the virus only to be still left without family contact!

The staff in these institutions are outstanding, and do everything possible to assist us and my mother in law.

It is also worth noting that the interim rehabilitation facility our family member seems to be headed to from Toronto Western, pending long term care placement, has a strict policy of isolation for the entire transition stay! This is the case even though she has been declared COVID-free for the past two weeks and the hospital has moved her off the COVID unit.  This looks like internecine organizational policy warfare, with the patients, residents and families caught in the crossfire. Its a shambles.

John H.