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Penalties for elderly patients: the fault of the ministry, according to the CISSS de la Côte-Nord

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Christian Dubé says he contacted the deputy minister to ask the president of the CISSS de la Côte-Nord to put an end to a controversial practice.

Isabelle Porter in Quebec

Published yesterday at 9:52 a.m. Updated yesterday at 4:03 p.m.

  • Quebec

Criticized for its directive imposed on elderly patients, the Centre de santé et de services sociaux de la Côte-Nord (CISSS) retorts that it is not it, but the Ministry of Health that imposes fees on patients who want to stay in hospital and refuse to be transferred to CHSLDs.

These fees “are covered by the ministerial circular and not by a CISSS directive,” the organization indicated in an email sent to Devoir. The CISSS also claims “that no patient has been threatened with legal action.”

In a first email, the CISSS wrote that the measure on fees imposed on patients “is not applied.” In a second communication, it instead acknowledged that “it is a measure that could be applied if necessary.”

The CISSS found itself in hot water Thursday after Paul Arcand's show revealed that a directive was forcing elderly patients on the Côte-Nord to leave the hospital for a CHSLD or risk being evicted.

Saying he was scandalized by the measure, Health Minister Christian Dubé ordered the withdrawal of the directive on Thursday and announced that he would carry out checks. “I can understand that the situation on the North Shore is difficult, but that is no reason to treat patients like that,” the minister said Thursday morning. “It won’t happen again,” he promised in English. His office then clarified that no person was affected by the directive, congratulating itself on having “acted on time”.

A “model letter”

The circular mentioned by the CISSS targets patients “who no longer need acute care, but who still occupy a hospital bed “hospital,” says spokesperson Pascal Paradis.

“Once their condition has been assessed to determine which accommodation is best suited to their needs,” these people can stay in the hospital “for the fees that apply based on ministerial traffic.” These fees are equivalent, he says, “to the rate they would pay if they were in accommodation adapted to their condition.”

These fees could be imposed to a person who refuses to go to available accommodation adapted to their condition.

As for the letter which was leaked in the media, it is about a “model letter” which was sent to staff, according to the CISSS, “in the event of a user refusing to be transferred to another installation in the network”. The organization also specifies that “no user” has received a letter “based on this model”.

The flying team not yet ready

Health services in the Côte-Nord region have been in crisis since the entry into force of new regulations limiting the recourse to private personnel agencies.

This is the second time this week that the government has been embarrassed in connection with what is happening in this region.

Monday, Le Devoir revealed that a baby born without major problems had to be separated from his mother and transferred to a Quebec hospital due to the closure of the Baie-Comeau nursery.

Questioned Thursday about his share of responsibility in the crisis, Minister Dubé defended himself from having acted too quickly with his regulations on agencies. “Not at all,” he said. “It’s a matter of approach.”

He added that the “limitations” of collective agreements prevented him until recently from creating his “flying team” to provide reinforcements to regions lacking personnel. “I would have liked to do it before.”

As for the local MP for the René-Lévesque constituency, Yves Montigny, he declared to the media that the existence of the aforementioned directive was “unacceptable” and that he “fully trusted” his “fellow Minister of Health”, without providing further comment.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116