Tuesday, April 15 Commentary
It reads like a Stephen King horror story but this is no fiction.
A Toronto Star investigation has found that at more than 300 nursing homes in Ontario, helpless seniors...perhaps even someone you know and love...are being dosed with prescription drugs to keep them calm...drugs that are risky and threaten to premature kill those with dementia.
The Star has found that at about 300 nursing homes, more than a third of the residents are on these powerful antipsychotic drugs. At more than 40 homes...about half the residents are on the drugs, which are not approved by Health Canada for the elderly with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Their risk of death from about a dozen prescription drugs is 60 percent greater than for the elderly who don't take those drugs.
It is worth noting here that this information was turned over to the Star thanks to the efforts of former Liberal cabinet minister Donna Cansfield. She's been complaing about this for some time to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Health Minister Deb Mathews. Cansfield says they acknowledge the problem but so far nothing has been done.
There's little doubt there are many seniors with dementia in those homes and I can tell you first hand through my mother's actions during her final days with Alzheimer's that these facilities don't have many options but to medicate because there just aren't enough nurses around. What I don't know is whether risky anti-psychotics are the only drugs that work.
If there are prescription options then lets get going. If there aren't then hire more nurses, which will, of course, drive up health care costs. My point is there is no easy answer here.
It's going to be a field day for the opposition at Queen's Park thanks to the Sun's Christina Blizzard.
Premier Kathleen Wynne's brother-in-law, the brother of her spouse, has been named interim CEO of e-Health at an annual salary of $210,000.
Political patronage? I imagine this is what Hudak and Horwath and the others opposite will try to sell you but on the face of it, this looks like there was sound reasoning for the appointment.
To begin with, David Rounthwaite has been the general counsel at e-Health for four years....long before his sister-in-law became Liberal leader and Premier. His full-time gig was to give legal counsel to e-Health.
The previous CEO left last October. The chairman of the board Ray Hession took over temporarily but family matters required him to step back. So then the board voted unanimously to appoint their general counsel David Rounthwaite to the CEO position on an interim basis while they searched for a permanent CEO. eHealth insists it has been completely transparent about this but the opposition will try to spin this to look like the Premier had her nose in where it should not have been. Thus far there is no proof of that.
At the corner of Boylston Street and Dartmouth Street in downtown Boston this afternoon, there will be a flag-raising ceremony and a moment of silence..a moment to mark the time and place where two bombs exploded one-year ago today.
3 people died. More than 260 were hurt and countless lives shattered and traumatized.
NewsTalk 1010's Russ Courtney covered that nightmare including the killing of one of the bombers and the wounding and arrest of his brother.
I asked Russ to explain what impact the Boston bombings have had on him.