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Stop Putting Voters Into George Pearson Centre


Minister of Health Adrian Dix (far left) and Vancouver Coastal Health Board Chair Dr. Penny Ballem (far right)

By Paul Caune

August 8th, 2022

A former George Pearson Centre tells of the ‘horror show’ he and others experienced living in the Vancouver long-term care facility, and explains the most important thing the public can do to help.


MAKE THE DEMAND


The best thing the public can do to help the residents of George Pearson Centre is send emails to the board of VCH and BC Minister of Health Adrian Dix demanding they stop admissions to the institution immediately.

Why? Because Canadians want to be free and there's no freedom in GPC. We need to make it politically impossible for the NDP and VCH to incarcerate voters in GPC.

The cruelty of GPC is no secret. In just the last three years alone, Pearson's cruelties have been exposed on the front page of the Vancouver Sun (twice!) and once on its second page, on News1130, CityTV, CTV, CKNW, and CBC's Early Edition.


Just in the last week, four segments of CBC's On The Coast and an article on their website have also covered it. And BCDisability.com has posted the stories of five GPC residents that truly shock and appall.


Listen to Paul Caune's segment on CBC's On The Coast


THE HORROR SHOW

When you add all those stories together, what do you get? A horror show.

According to the Vancouver Sun:

“For that reason, Randy [Walter] entered Vancouver’s George Pearson Centre for a three-week stay in late August. He remained only 12 days. In a letter to [GPC], Evelyn Walter [Randy’s wife] writes:

‘The facilities looked terrific! Swimming pool, games room, large TV screen, computer room, a bulletin board full of activities.


The visit to George Pearson erased any feeling of guilt about ‘sending him away.’ I took a well-adjusted, happy husband to a place where in two short weeks they traumatized him into a worthless, frustrated human being.


They traumatized him into a worthless, frustrated human being

He came home and cried in fear of what it would be like for him in the future if he could not speak out to communicate…. He did not dare complain while at George Pearson for fear that those who took care of him would make it worse. That’s an unspoken understanding all patients realize very soon…’

Staff shortages forced him to stay in bed each day until 1:30, and return to bed after dinner. Six times, Walter was placed on a commode chair visible to hallway passersby. Only twice did an attendant volunteer, without Walter’s having to ask, to draw a privacy curtain.


Once, he was left on the commode for two hours, during which time the fire alarm rang – and no one came to get him. On two of three consecutive nights the same nurse was on duty, she was confused or forgot his medication…


According to Randy Walter, ward staff ‘showed little or no regard’ for patients’ dignity, allowing call-buzzers to ring incessantly – at one count, 44 times over 4 1/2 minutes.”


“WE’LL LEAVE YOU LAYING IN IT”


When was Randy’s story published? 1991. The title of the article I quoted from? “Stay at institution turned into horror show”. Randy was in GPC for 12 days, imagine being treated that way for years?

Or how about for 21 months? That's how long I was trapped in GPC. Here's just one thing that happened to me there, and not the worst:

Some of the nurses on my ward were bugging me to go to bed every night at nine. They were so pressing and persistent I went to the manager of GPC and asked her, “They want me to go to bed at nine, but I want to go to bed at ten, is this a problem?” The manager said it wasn't.

Not long after that conversation two nurses were putting me to bed, at ten. One of the nurses got...agitated. I had soiled myself. Yet once again a nurse started bugging to go to bed at nine.

When I'm on my back my speech impediment gets worse, basically I croak like a toad. So as they undressed me this one nurse is giving me the gears. I'm croaking back and she says, “If you don't agree to go to bed at nine, we'll leave you laying in it.”

I croaked out, “Maybe you should calm down.” The two nurses walked out of my room and closed the door behind them.


Paul Caune lived in Pearson for 21 months. He now has his own apartment.

Now before I tell you the rest of that anecdote, what's the best description of that nurse's actions? Raw power.

Like all people with complex disabilities, I'm absolutely dependent on the strong to clean me, to keep me alive. I am in their power.

About half an hour later a nurse from the next shift arrived to check my ventilator as per routine. He was surprised to see that I hadn't been cleaned. He cleaned me.

First thing I did when I was put in my wheelchair the next morning was tell the manager what happened.


I was told when asked about my complaint the nurse admitted she did it and said she was sorry. I was told a letter about “the incident” would remain on her file for a year. And the manager agreed to my demand that the nurse in question never be assigned to me again.


HAMMERED DOWN

Vancouver's George Pearson Centre


What's exceptional about my anecdote is the nurse admitted what she did, but what she did is the rule not the exception at GPC.

What is Rule Number One of GPC?

The Nail That Sticks Up Is Hammered Down.

I don't care if your mom is in a LTC facility and you visit her every day including Christmas, you have no idea how terrifying it is to live in GPC.

What's it like to live in GPC?

GPC is the hammer and you're the nail. And every day they will hammer you flat.

Many years ago, when a VCH executive asked me, “How can we make GPC better?” I answered, “Don't put people into it.”

The best thing the public can do to help the residents of George Pearson Centre is send emails to the board of VCH and BC Minister of Health Adrian Dix demanding they stop admissions to the institution immediately.

Here are their emails:

hlth.minister@gov.bc.ca

board.chair@vch.ca

 

Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to spencer@bcdisability.com!