Daughter seeks solution for separated parents

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo Norman, left, Sharon, and Rosa Lafferty enjoy some family time at the long term care facility at the hospital in Hay River last Wednesday. Sharon Lafferty says separating her parents between two facilities is a cruel measure.

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo
Norman, left, Sharon, and Rosa Lafferty enjoy some family time at the long term care facility at the hospital in Hay River last Wednesday. Sharon Lafferty says separating her parents between two facilities is a cruel measure.

There is a dearth of long-term care beds in the South Slave and Sharon Lafferty believes her parents are suffering for it.

“They’ve been together 60 years, and now they’re separated,” said Sharon. “It’s not right.”

Up until the end of December, both Norman and Rosa Lafferty were housed in the long-term care wing of the H.H. Williams Memorial Hospital. Sharon said that last December, her father had travelled to Yellowknife to have his leg amputated and learned he was being moved to Woodland Manor upon his return. Rosa would not be joining him right away.

“If we have couples, we try to keep them together, we try to keep them in the same building,” said CEO Al Woods of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority. “It depends on the care needed.”

The heart of the matter, according to Woods, was that Norman was caught smoking in the hospital, something that is strictly prohibited as there are oxygen lines running through the building.

“We do not allow smoking at the hospital, but we do allow it at Woodland Manor, outside in a covered gazebo, with a ramp for wheelchair access,” said Woods. “Unfortunately, it’s a long path from the hospital to that gazebo and difficult to manage in the winter.”

Sharon maintains that her father did not receive enough warnings about his smoking, and that he has always smoked during the summer and quit during the winter. She said the scene when Norman was brought home from Yellowknife and separated from Rosa was traumatic for the whole family.

“I don’t like it,” Rosa told The Hub last week. “We do get to see each other, whenever they’re not too busy, but that’s not very often. We used to have meals together, but since they moved him, it’s all buggered up.”

Woods said the couple can see each other as much as they want and that Rosa is first in line on the waiting list for the Manor. Although some of the services differ between the two facilities – patients on oxygen are kept in the hospital proper, for instance – both units are rated for level 4 care. If patients are deemed to be at level 2 or 3, they are shipped to Stanton Territorial Hospital in the capital. The Manor is currently home to 15 beds and the hospital a further 10.

Sharon said that although she appreciates the care her parents are receiving from the authority, she would much prefer there be a long-term care option in her family’s hometown of Fort Resolution. She said there was such a facility before, but that it closed as a result of lack of funding. Travelling to see them is a strain both in terms of time and finances. But for now, she would be happy to just see Rosa and Norman reunited under the same roof.

“It would have been nice if we could have had a family meeting and told my dad what was happening,” said Sharon. “It’s really disappointing they did it at Christmastime. I don’t think he was given enough warnings.”

-Sarah Ladik