Clarenville woman says Eastern Health failed her mother-in-law

Dorothy Vardy passes away while separated from husband in different care facility

Published on February 16, 2017

Dorothy Vardy with her husband, Roy (left) and son, Bill (centre) this past summer in Clarke’s Beach. Mrs. Vardy died in December 2016.

©Contributed photo

CLARENVILLE — Nadine Vardy says the bureaucracy of Eastern Health has failed her parents-in-law, Dorothy and Roy Vardy, when the married couple of almost 70 years was split up in care facilities last year.

“There has to be priority given on compassionate grounds, as well as medical,” Nadine told TC Media.

In May 2016, Dorothy was admitted to the G.B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville and it was determined she was not suited to return to the Clarenville Retirement Centre — where her and her husband lived — because she needed a more appropriate level of care.

Dorothy was admitted to the hospital over the next five weeks until a level three facility could provide a bed. Nadine says Dorothy had to accept the first available bed — potentially anywhere in eastern Newfoundland.

She was sent to the Callingwood Downs Seniors Complex in Clarke’s Beach and placed on a waiting list to return to Clarenville.

Dorothy spent three months in Clarke’s Beach until she was able to move to Pleasantview Towers in St. John’s in September.

“Luckily, my daughter lived in the surrounding area and would visit her almost daily despite the tremendous pressure this put on her along with a full time job and young family,” said Nadine. “We would bring Mrs. Vardy’s husband to visit her from Clarenville to visit once a week, if possible. She lived for these visits.”

After moving to St. John’s, Dorothy was still on the waiting list to return to Clarenville at the O’Mahony Manor.

Nadine says, while medical professionals, staff and social workers were very helpful and sympathetic, she made weekly phone calls to managers in Eastern Health to no avail.

She says, only after reaching out to the news media, were they able to set up a meeting with Eastern Health officials.

“There was no more heart given to our plight by them and we left the meeting with mounting frustration.”

Throughout this entire period, Dorothy and Roy were still separated.

“Mr. Vardy was so frustrated,” said Nadine. “He was willing to go and be admitted at the facility just so he could be there to help care for her.”

She says the people in charge of the placement made the situation the most difficult.

“It was such a negative, frustrating experience … we weren’t allowed to know anything.

“We couldn’t tell Mrs. Vardy to have a bit of hope because in three weeks she’d be able to get back here, because they wouldn’t tell us anything.”

On Dec. 22, 2016 — the day before her 91st birthday — Dorothy Vardy passed away in St. John’s.

“A broken heart can contribute to many physical illnesses and we believe this is the case,” says Nadine.

She says the system failed Mr. and Mrs. Vardy, but there should be hope for people who are going to go through the same thing.

Nadine says there needs to be more communication and transparency.

“A system cannot work without guidelines, granted, but every situation is different. All situations do not fit all people.

“We would like to see more empathy in our system that we, as taxpayers, have contributed to all our lives, and our parents’ lives. Our elderly deserve to have some dignity in their last days.”

Twitter: @jejparsons