The St.Catharines Standard's Jeff Bolichowski wrote in "Don't send me there" (Jun.11,2011):
"The family of a woman who died during St. Catharines General Hospital's C. difficile outbreak said she dreaded being treated at the hospital she volunteered at for years.
Elizabeth Loucks, 87, of St. Catharines died at the hospital Thursday morning, said daughter Janet Melnyk. She said her mother was a C. difficile patient and believes she caught the superbug during an earlier admittance to the hospital in May.
As Loucks battled the symptoms of the illness, Melnyk said, her mother didn't want to go back to the hospital despite having mended clothes as a volunteer there until about two years ago.
"She didn't want to go," she said. "That was her exact words: 'Don't send me there. I'll just get sicker.' "
Melnyk said despite her mom's death, she was pleased with doctors' efforts to save her. She said the hospital's staff were determined to beat Loucks' C. difficile.
But she slammed the hospital's "filthy" conditions. "The conditions in there are disgusting," she said, describing cluttered halls crammed with lab coats.
Melnyk, of Hamilton, said the feisty Loucks had gone to Guelph for a hip replacement in April and rebounded nicely. But after coming down with a bladder illness, she went for treatment in May to St. Catharines General.
When she returned home, the symptoms started. The timing has Melnyk convinced her mother picked up the disease in St. Catharines.
Though Loucks was not named in a Niagara Health System media release as the fourth C. difficile patient to die at the hospital, Melnyk believes she's the one because the release was sent out hours after her death on Thursday.
The release said the death was reported to the regional coroner's office. The NHS will conduct its own review to determine if C. difficile was the cause of death.
Loucks leaves behind two children and six grandchildren.
NHS vice-president Anne Atkinson would not confirm if Loucks was the victim or discuss her case.
"I have to respect patient confidentiality," she said.
But she said public health officials toured the hospital Monday and Tuesday and were pleased with its cleanliness.
She said sometimes bags are left out before laundry pickup, which can make the building look worse than it is. And while doctors may leave coats in the corridors when they put on protective gear, it doesn't happen often.
Mayor Brian McMullan said he had no concerns about the hospital's sanitation and has been assured it's clean. But he acknowledged the building is aging.
"It's a facility... well past its prime and its useful life," he said.
"I think everyone will be glad, especially patients, when they will be in a brand new state-of-the-art facility."
Dr. Jessica Hopkins of the Niagara public health department also wouldn't comment on specific C. difficile cases. But she said in some situations, C. difficile symptoms — which include constant diarrhea — don't show up for up to eight weeks after someone is exposed.
As of Friday afternoon, Atkinson said the hospital has 22 people with C. difficile, bringing the total to 29 patients over the course of the outbreak. But only two have been infected since safeguards were put in place, and even those caught it early on.
The hospital's protective measures include isolating patients in special areas, cleaning surfaces twice a day with a spore-killing agent and having staff who work with infected patients not work with uninfected people and vice-versa.
The outbreak isn't over yet, Hopkins said.
"There isn't a specific time period that you can say it's going to last," Hopkins said.
"Most outbreaks usually last a couple of months in time."
She said she couldn't guess if more people would die or estimate how many.
"It's not predictable," she said "It's based a lot on a person's underlying health condition and how they respond to treatment."
Hopkins said the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is aware of the outbreak. The Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion has been providing advice on bringing it under control.
But while she said the safeguards had provided positive signs the spread is being controlled, it's not over.
"We need to wait until rates of C. difficile return to baseline levels," she said. "It's going to take many weeks for that to happen."
McMullan, meanwhile, said he wants to know why the outbreak happened and how to prevent it from happening again.
"I think we're all anxious about the situation," he said. "The fact that there's been any loss of life is tragic."
It is utterly unbelievable - truly unfathomable - that the St.Catharines Standard FAILED YET AGAIN - for 14 STRAIGHT DAYS, since May 28 - to report what local Liberal MPP and single-payer health-care monopolist Jim Bradley has to say about this!!
Who the f*ck cares what Mayor McFullofit has got to say?
What, has McMullan now somehow become Jim Bradley's goddam proxy?! Has Mayor McFullofit suddenly been appointed through some murky Liberal Order-In-Council as deputy-MPP for St.Catharines?
WHERE IS THAT LIBERAL SCUMBAG JIM BRADLEY?
Why is the St. Catharines Standard protecting Jim Bradley?
Why isn't the Standard even telling readers whether or not the paper had contacted the Savant of Secord Dr., and whether or not Bradley responded?
Now we're being told about how Mayor McFullofit - who has no provincial health-care authority - wants answers and wants to prevent this from happening... bla bla bla... what crocodile-tear contrition!
For Pete's sake, Mr. McMullan: McGuinty's Liberals refused to call an inquiry when their health-monopoly killed 500 Ontario patients in 2008!!!
Have you ever asked your secretive Liberal buddy Jim Bradley about that, Mr. McMullan??
Why would McMullan expect any Liberal - like Jim Bradley - to give a rat's ass about a handful of health-monopoly victims in St. Catharines? After all, the Liberals tell us that these victims are just anomalies...
Mr. McMullan, you were with Bradley several days ago, for cryin' out loud, blowing millions on bus garages - why the f*ck didn't ya ask yer buddy Bradley about his killer C. difficile outbreak then??
Smitherman, Bradley, Craitor and the rest of Dalton McGuinty's scumbag Liberals covered up the earlier 2008 C. difficile outbreak with facile assurances that all was taken care of.
We were just supposed to trust Smitherman on that, remember, with NO PUBLIC INQUIRY ever being called.
I don't remember big-mouth McMullan or Jim Bradley ever demanding explanations for those C. difficile patient deaths back then. I don't recall McMullan - now apparently the St.Catharines Standard's new Jim Bradley go-to clone - ever demanding that McGuinty's Liberals give him answers and call a public inquiry into those 2008 C. difficile deaths!!
Mayor McFullof it didn't give a shit then.
So if McMullan was serious now - and not just mouthing McFullofit rhetoric - he would have already called for a public inquiry this time. No such luck.
McMullan would have already publicly demanded that Jim Bradley's Liberals launch a public inquiry.
McMullan would be outraged and would have demanded publicly for Bradley to show himself and to explain his government's actions.
But we didn't see that - we just saw hot air spewing from McFullofit, who has no responsibility for running the provincial health-system, and we saw NOTHING from Liberal MPP Jim Bradley - whose government is responsible for running the health system.
Jim Bradley has utterly abdicated his role as MPP on this most serious issue, which unfolded right under his secretive nose.
And mayor McFullofit's lamentation about this being oh-so-tragic is thoroughly phony: seeing that the secretive Liberals in charge of the health-system couldn't be bothered to hold a proper public inquiry last time - when hundreds were killed - then this latest outbreak isn't "tragic", Mr. Mayor - it's NEGLIGENT - see here.
Go get your story straight with Jim Bradley - if you can find him.