Sharon Blady’s ‘privacy legislation’ and other excuses for abandoning vulnerable patients exposed by CBC

I waited and waited to write this, because I was hoping there would be some resolution to the disappearance of Reid Bricker. Sadly, he is still missing.

Originally I was going to give Health Minister Sharon Blady some credit. I’ve been critical of her before, but as Gordon Sinclair Jr.  wrote in the Free Press on October 31st, Blady had contacted Reid’s mother:

“The first words out of her mouth this morning,” recalled Bonnie Bricker, were, ‘Bonnie, this Sharon Blady. And mother-to-mother, what can I do to help you?’ “

Bricker had reached out to Manitoba’s health minister because of her suicidal adult son, Reid Bricker, who, on Oct. 23, was escorted by police to Health Sciences Centre under what his mother says is known as a “Form 3.”

reid“That means you cannot leave the facility unless a health-care professional signs you out,” Bricker explained.

That’s what happened, and was done according to proper protocol, according to what the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has since told his mother. 

Last Saturday, on the day before his 33rd birthday, Reid was released from HSC alone into the darkness of the early morning streets and the darkness of his thoughts.

… it wasn’t the first time their middle child had ended up in the emergency ward of a Winnipeg hospital this month after attempting to die by suicide. They say it’s the third time in 10 days. First at Seven Oaks, later at St. Boniface and finally at HSC.

“He managed to get into three major hospitals, and all three of them let him go after he’d overdosed,” Bricker said. 

Never held for treatment after 3 suicide attempts?? That was pretty outrageous in of of itself. But the excuse why the family wasn’t called to pick him up was even worse.

 “Blady …. knows how vulnerable people are when they struggle with anxiety and depression the way Reid does, because, as she openly and often acknowledges, she has had her own struggles with mental health beginning more than 20 years ago after the birth of her son.

Which, at least in part, is why the health minister seems open to trying to change things, possibly even amending Manitoba’s Personal Health Information Act.

What was so refreshingly rare was how personal and sincere she made it sound.

“They need our support, and we need to ensure that they’re looked after,” Blady said.

“And if right now there is something in place that is preventing that from happening … I want to fix it … I want to look at the entire package and see where the gaps are. And, yes, it might be the PHIA legislation. It might be elsewhere.”

My admiration for Blady recognizing the flaws of her governments improper processes – a legacy of the Theresa Oswald regime as Minister – and her sincerity, lasted all of 2 days.

reid2The way the family feels betrayed by Blady has not been reported in the Free Press or anywhere aside from this CBC story from November 2nd, which is why I want to make sure this is known:

” When his family tried to get information about Bricker they were told PHIA wouldn’t allow for the disclosure of information without consent from the individual.

On Friday, Blady said the province will review hospital protocols and laws around releasing patient information under PHIA in response to Bricker’s disappearance. 

But Michael Markwick, the president of B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, says Manitoba’s PHIA legislation already contains an exception that should have applied in Bricker’s case.

Section 22 of the act says:

 “a trustee may disclose personal health information without the consent of the individual the information is about … if the trustee reasonably believes that the disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and immediate threat to the health or safety of the individual the information is about.” 

“There is actually nothing in that law that would have prevented the hospital from sharing the records,” Markwick said…

The disclosure of this simple fact led to this pathetic invention:

Lori Lamont, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s vice president of interprofessional practices, said she couldn’t comment on Reid Bricker directly, but noted “that people are assessed as to the degree of risk to themselves or to others, and based on that decision, there would be a decision made as to whether information could be shared.”

Lamont added that “it would also depend on whether the individual had or had not explicitly indicated to us whether they wanted information shared.”

… Markwick said that a man who had three times attempted suicides should have met the WRHA’s test for an immediate risk, and that “the legislation is very clear that the information can be shared even without the consent of the individual.”

Bonnie Bricker, Reid Bricker’s mom, said she’s angry that the legislation allowed for the release of information about her son this whole time, despite what they’ve been told.

They are negligent, or they need to be re-educated about what PHIA actually says,” Bonnie said.

“Somewhere, something broke … and my son is a victim of that.

In an interview Monday, Minister Blady reiterated that she is consulting with experts about Manitoba’s PHIA legislation.

It’s pretty obvious that

(A) Lori Lamont needs to be shown the door since she made up a nonsensical reason why the Brickers couldn’t be called;

(B) while sounding “sincere”, Blady was more concerned with damage control witht he Brickers than actually knowing the facts, and her “experts” cannot be trusted; and

(C) as other recent stories demonstrate, the health care system under Blady is using “privacy” and other excuses to mitigate legal risk while it sacrifices the health of vulnerable people — and costs us more (health care dollars) in the long run.

There’s this Nov. 3rd CBC story about a hoarder:

(Marion) Willis believes privacy legislation and human rights have become reasons for people not to get involved.

I think we have legislated ourselves to a place where we actually cause harm to people now; it’s not helpful. It’s incredibly sad,” she said.

reid3“If there had been an intervention 10 years ago, when he was living outside of his house and sleeping in his porch because there was no room inside, maybe it could have been fixed. But there is no fixing this now. He’s also a cancer patient who is a very sick man and has fallen through the cracks in that system too.

Willis says there are no funds available to help people such as Mestdagh move out. 

This CBC story on Nov. 4th detailed the outrageous treatment by the WRHA of a Holocaust survivor:
After she was medically discharged, she had to wait seven or eight days for home care to be arranged, she said.

“I was furious that I was occupying a bed I no longer needed,” Grunfeld said. “It is frustrating, because I wanted to come home.”

Grunfeld was told she couldn’t go home until home-care service was arranged and that they were waiting to find someone, she said.

Home-care providers were assigned to visit Grunfeld three times a day when she got home, but there were problems.

reid4“They would not allow me to take a shower,” she said.  

Grunfeld has a hydraulic chair in her bathtub and needed help getting into it, but the worker wasn’t allowed to assist her because of policy, she said.

“I was furious. I sent her away. I said, ‘I don’t need this,'” she said.

Another worker came around suppertime. Grunfeld hoped for help with food preparation, she said, but all the worker could do was set the table, so she also sent her away.

When it came to the evening help, Grunfeld was surprised to find there were more restrictions.

She was not allowed to remind me of taking the medication. She was not allowed to give me a glass of water to take my medication,” she said. “All she was allowed was to put the nightgown on me.”…  

Officials from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority did an assessment in early October and Grunfeld was later told she was not eligible for home care because of her mobility, she said.

“So excuse me for being alive,” Grunfeld said…

And the government wants seniors to stay in their homes as long as possible, so what kind of a help is this?”


A story a day for 3 days from CBC. Some very good reporting.

Now we know Sharon Blady doesn’t know what she’s talking about as Health Minister and she allows her bureaucrats to shun the needs of vulnerable people including seniors.

To me, as a mother, that destroyed whatever goodwill had been established by the Sinclair Jr. column, and no barrage of ribbon-cuttings for Quick Care clinics will restore it.

Lastly, this thought:

Provincial privacy legislation seemingly allowed city police to call Mayor Bowman about a council member being tossed into the drunk tank on Saturday, but didn’t allow police or hospital staff to call the Brickers when their mentally ill son was released from HSC at 3 am after he tried to kill himself for the third time in 10 days.

Greg Selinger, what is wrong with this picture painted by your government?


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