• John Jantak

Ste. Anne’s Hospital resident invited to voice complaints to Veterans' Affairs


Vaudreuil-Soulanges Liberal MP Peter Schiefke invited Ste. Anne’s Veterans Hospital resident Wolf Solkin to voice his concerns about an alleged decline in the quality of services being provided at the facility to federal Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr.

Concerns made by a Ste. Anne’s Hospital resident about an apparent decline in the level and quality of service provided to patients prompted federal Liberal Member of Parliament for Vaudreuil-Soulanges Peter Schiefke to invite the 93-year-old veteran to address his concerns directly to Kent Hehr, the federal Minister of Veteran’s Affairs.

Wolf Solkin, who served in Western Europe during World War II, told Your Local Journal that he and some of his fellow patients on their hospital floor are concerned that the quality of care and service they receive will continue to deteriorate when the facility in Ste. Anne de Bellevue is transferred from federal to provincial government control Friday, April 1.

Solkin has been advocating, talking, and writing about issues that affect patients at the veterans’ health care facility since he was first admitted and said most of the patients on his floor have expressed similar fears about what they perceive is a steady erosion of their quality of care.

“I’ve been very, very concerned along with my fellow residents about the impact of the changeover,” said Solkin. “The two major things we were told was that our standard of care as it existed under federal management will not change or be reduced in any way, and that the attention and service that we get will be in the language of our choice.”

But according to Solkin, the new personnel that have been hired within the past two months to replace up to 45 per cent of the hospital’s former employees are not able to adequately handle patients’ personal need requirements, especially in the field of specialized geriatric care.

“They do not have the same experience and skills as the old staff, especially at the level of the orderly which is the foundation of the entire hospital service,” said Solkin. “They’re the ones who bathe, feed, clean up, empty your catheter and do other things for you when needed. They do the essential and often unpleasant jobs that are necessary for people who are geriatric and immobile.”

Solkin also claims that some of the new personnel do speak or understand English, and that if they do, their comprehension is very limited which could negatively impact patients who have communication difficulties.

“Fortunately, I can talk, I can hear, and I can make myself understood in English or French but there are guys who cannot talk, they can’t hear and don’t speak one word of French,” said Solkin. “Even if they could speak, how are they going to get the same level of service when there is a disconnection in communication?”

Schiefke was surprised when told of Solkin’s concerns because no complaints were voiced to him or to Minister Hehr, Lac St. Louis MP Francis Scarpaleggia and Pierrefonds-Roxboro MP Frank Baylis, when they met with veterans’ representatives and patients during a visit and tour of the hospital on March 14 to gauge the affects of the changeover before the official transfer tomorrow.

During their almost four-hour visit, no one voiced any concerns to the entourage, said Schiefke, who declined to comment specifically on Solkin’s concerns.

“It’s difficult for me to comment on one particular veteran’s reflections on the quality of care they’re receiving,” said Schiefke. “There was no indication at all that there was anyone complaining about the quality of care that was being received at the hospital. What was stressed by all parties was that the quality of care, which is the highest quality that exists in the country, is going to stay the same.”

Schiefke suggested that Solkin contact Veterans Affairs Minister Hehr personally to voice his grievances, and offered his personal help to Solkin to expedite the contact process.

“If this person has anything they want to share, Minister Herr is probably one of the most reachable, down-to-earth, compassionate ministers that the veterans can have and he would be more than welcoming of any kind of feedback to his office,” Schiefke said.

Schiefke’s visit to veterans’ hospital was also a gesture to support to the region’s veterans who use the facility and to reassure patients and families that the same level of healthcare services that is being provided will be maintained after the transfer.

“It was important for me as the MP for Vaudreuil-Soulanges to participate because we have several communities such as St. Lazare and Hudson that have family members currently being treated in the hospital,” said Schiefke. “It was great for me to go back to those families and confirm that the quality of care is going to remain at the level it’s currently at.”

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