Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Health Authority Apologizes for 'Detaining' Woman for over Two Years

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Health Authority Apologizes for 'Detaining' Woman for over Two Years

Article excerpt

Sorry for detaining woman: health authority


VICTORIA - A British Columbia man's claim that his wife was held hostage in a care facility has prompted a stinging report from the office of the province's ombudsperson and an apology from a health authority.

David and Nancy Varcoe's bureaucratic odyssey began when she was admitted to the Penticton, B.C., hospital for emergency treatment in late 2010. She was then transferred to a care facility in March 2011 and held there until May 2013 despite her wishes to be discharged.

"My wife was held like a hostage," Varcoe said Thursday. "If this isn't unlawful confinement, or leading to that, what else is?"

The Office of the Ombudsperson investigated the couple's complaint and ordered Interior Health to formally apologize, refund more than $25,000 in residential care fees, develop guidelines and train staff on responsibilities under the Adult Guardianship Act.

Nancy Varcoe, 60, a registered nurse, suffered a series of strokes over the years and is now partially paralysed. She also has several other health issues and is currently in hospital in Penticton after suffering a fall.

Her husband contacted the ombudsperson in 2012 with concerns that Interior Health refused to discharge her. She had been admitted to the care home as an involuntary patient under the Mental Health Act.

A two-page report, dated April 2, 2015, and signed by Rachel Warren, an officer in the Office of the Ombudsperson, said Interior Health staff believed the woman was vulnerable and had concerns about how she would be cared for at home.

But the report said staff didn't take the steps set out under legislation to pursue an order allowing them take over the woman's care.

Varcoe's power of attorney was revoked without providing her with access to a lawyer and the Public Guardian then began managing her legal and financial affairs, the report said. …

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