‘Motel medicine’: Alberta NDP urge apology after stroke patient sent to motel

Alberta’s health minister says proper procedures were followed when a stroke patient who, for his long-term recovery, was shipped to a motel where his wheelchair didn’t fit and he was fed fast food.

“I was very concerned when I heard about this situation and I did talk to Alberta Health Services,” Adriana LaGrange told the house Monday in response to questions from the Opposition NDP.

“They assured me that all of the processes in terms of discharge were followed.

“This individual was discharged to a non-profit organization that chose that particular site.”

LaGrange added that 500 patients are successfully discharged daily.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley asked why LaGrange believes “highway health care and motel medicine is anything but a failure of her job.”

Lori Sigurdson, the NDP critic for community care and homecare asked, “Will the premier apologize to this Albertan for this absolutely shameful treatment?”

The exchange followed a weekend CBC report detailing how a man paralyzed on his left side after a stroke, who uses a wheelchair, was moved to a Travelodge motel in Leduc, a bedroom community just south of the provincial capital, without being consulted.

The patient, Blair Canniff, could not be immediately reached for comment.

CBC reported Canniff, 62, had been a patient at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for about six months, when a social worker told him two weeks ago he was being moved.

He told the news outlet he was not given a choice of where to go.

Canniff said he expected to be moved into a long-term care facility, and when his taxi pulled up at the motel he thought it was “sort of a joke.”

His wife, Myna Manniapik, told CBC that Caniff struggled to go to the bathroom and to get into bed as the motel room was not set up for wheelchair users.

She also said he was fed fast food and his hygiene was not managed.

Canniff told CBC that Contentment Social Services was running the program in the motel.

Contentment describes itself on its website as a not-for-profit based in Edmonton that “invests in tomorrow’s leaders by revitalizing communities through education, vocational training, and partnerships.”

It says its work includes employment assistance, housing referrals, financial management, “women empowerment” as well as senior, disability and respite care.

Contentment did not respond to a request for comment from The Canadian Press.

Canniff told CBC he has since been taken back to hospital and doesn’t know what the next step is.

The Canadian Press e-mailed Alberta Health Services with detailed questions about how often motels are used for such cases and how it works to ensure the quality of care and meals, as well as the accessibility of accommodations. AHS is the delivery arm of the province’s health system.

In an e-mailed statement, AHS spokeswoman Kristi Bland said it’s important hospital beds and resources are used for patients with acute care needs, and discharge planning generally begins when a patient is admitted.

Bland said care teams – including social workers, nurses, transition co-ordinators, allied health professionals and physicians – work with patients and their families to determine the best place to go when they no longer need acute care.

“Based on an individual’s care needs at the time of discharge, including their ability to live independently and to adhere to relevant housing criteria, different discharge options are considered,” Bland wrote.

She said AHS connects patients with community non-profits if they need help with housing following their discharge from acute care.

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