Thursday, September 25, 2008

Brian Sinclair, 45 – This Should Never Have Happened

The time seemed to drag by as we sat in emergency waiting for our turn to be next… for the wonderful moment when the nurse would come and get you. I was in pain and needed help – that’s why we came to this place entitled “Emergency”.

Lest you think that this just happened – it didn’t. I’m okay and haven’t had to go through this for over a year. But it is my example to begin this post.

In Peterborough Regional Health Centre, our hospital, the new Emergency has a special name. It is the “Dembrowski Emergency Access Department” – named in honour of a financial donor. From the outside it is amazing to see the large letters above the door. But at a second look you see “D.E.A.D”.

No where would that be a more appropriate naming than in Winnipeg.

Brian Sinclair was 45 years old and had lived in Winnipeg along time. No where in his wildest dreams would he have ever thought that he would be famous one day. If someone would have told him that the Premier of the Province of Manitoba would be speaking about him – he wouldn’t have believed it. Brian had been by the big building where the Golden Boy stands on top, where the government meets to make huge decisions about people like himself – but that world was so very far from his world. No one really cares about him over there!

Brian had been living “on the street” in a wheel chair. He had been in regular contact with Main Street Project Mission, where he likely was getting food and some shelter on bad days. His friends and some relatives were there as well. He was fairly well known in his small circle.

Brian had a problem that was very serious. Last March he had been in the hospital for the very same problem – but now it was back again and even worse this time. The problem was with his bladder. He had a catheter and with that came the problem of infection. But this time it was much worse. The pain had to be unbearable.

Even he knew it was serious when he had not been able to urinate for over 24 hours. So he caught a taxi to the Winnipeg Regional Health Centre – the WRHC. As he was unloaded from the cab into his wheel chair that was the last help that he would ever get.

34 hours later a Hospital Emergency worker finally forced themselves (or were forced to by a concerned fellow patient) to check this chronic complainer. Sinclair had been back many times to the Emergency Room – everyone knew that! And guess what he or she found? Manitoba's chief medical examiner describes it best…

“Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra said Brian Sinclair, 45, hadn't been able to urinate for 24 hours because of a blocked catheter and his bladder was full. He had been dead for hours and rigour mortis had set in when finally attended to.”

From all that I can discern from the articles posted about Brian, he was Aboriginal – a First Nation person that lived on the street. He was also a double amputee that had lost both his legs dew to frostbite while living on the streets of Winnipeg.

Sure he was well known at that Hospital. Sure he had been there before and he may well have snuck into the Emerge to sleep in a warm place. And with the loss of his legs, perhaps poor diet and lack of cleanliness that comes from sleeping on the street, always sitting in your own same clothing for long periods of time – you are not the best representative of the human race.

Now try this. With the catheter in place and then let go from the hospital – Brian is given instructions as to how “you can do this yourself – at home”. No problem – right? “Now Brian this is important that you clean the tubing and then insert this in carefully to be able to drain the urine out. If you have problems maybe someone where you live will help you. If you really are having problems a Home Care worker will assists you. You need to call to have that care come to your home. Make arrangements and be sure that you get on their list of care.”

Home for Brian was pretty much wherever the wheel chair rolled to… the awning up the street to cover him from the rain…to a warm air vent. Perhaps even the shelter would have a bed if he got there early enough. But they have rules that you cannot get in until 4 PM and it is first come first served. He was usually lucky enough to get food there – but beds were full – other than the mat on the floor.

BUT Murray – were you there to see all that happen? Nope. I watch it happen in our city. First come, First Served is everywhere in our community. If you snooze you lose. And if you are in a wheel chair you will not get to the front of the line of hurting people.

Now if you have ever undergone the catheterizing you will know that there is some discomfort. And if they tell you to go home and do it yourself – even after the top teacher in the world telling you how easy it is – your hands will shake as you penetrate your own body.

Nope. I have never done that (yet). But someone close to me had to and the results were infection. And this person was in a perfectly clean environment. Brian Sinclair wasn’t.

The sad part was the comment by the director of the Main Street Project Mission. His name is Brian Bechtel.
“The shelter will soon have a nurse on-site which was a recommendation that came out of an inquest several years ago. Mr. Sinclair's death may at least highlight the need to bring health care to the homeless directly rather than assuming they will seek help on their own”, Mr. Bechtel said.

Who cares? That’s the main reason that I write this story today – is to ask – WHO CARES?

God does. That is one comfort that I have when thinking of Brian. But my concern is for me and my family in MY COMMUNITY. And in our case with the Brand New PRHC with its new facility it is better than before.

But I still have a little concern with the name D.E.A.D being hooked up with the area that I am rushed into for emergency help. Then when I check out the PRHC’s web site and they clearly warn you that the FAST TRACK for Emergency help is open from 8 AM to 12 MIDNIGHT… there are 8 hours there that it isn’t really good to get sick…

Brian Sinclair, though you cannot hear or see what is going on right now – I remember you and will think of you often this week.

~ Murray Lincoln ~


No comments: