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She died in February. But her long-term care home didn’t notify the family until nearly a month later

Why did it take almost a month for Melanie Barker’s family to be notified that she had died inside her London, Ont. long-term care home?

That’s the question Barker’s loved ones are still asking.

Barker, 66, died on Feb. 12 at Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care, where she had been living for nearly a decade.

“This shouldn’t have happened. It makes me so angry that she died alone, and the body sat in the morgue for a month,” her sister, Donna Barker, said from her home in Havelock, Ont.

“There’s no justification for that.”

According to long-term care records, provided to CBC News by the family, Barker’s condition sharply worsened on Feb. 9 after choking during lunch. She died on Feb. 12, but the family says it wasn’t notified until March 8.

In a statement to CBC News, St. Joseph’s Health Care London, which oversees Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care, said it couldn’t comment on individual resident matters because of privacy legislation. But it did say it follows all proper procedures for notification of substitute decision-makers and powers of attorney when a resident dies.

Meanwhile, in a written response, the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General said the Public Guardian and Trustee’s office “makes reasonable efforts to identify family” in its role as a guardian of property but isn’t mandated to search for family members. Read more

Marketplace has been delving into ongoing issues in long-term care for years, most recently in March when the team investigated the crisis in home care.

WATCH | A family waits for answers from long-term care home: 

She died in a nursing home, no one told her family for nearly a month

After Melanie Barker died alone in a long-term care home in London, Ont., it took nearly a month for her family to be notified of her death. CBC’s Katie Nicholson helps the family investigate why.

Specialized clinics to treat long COVID are in demand, but physicians say they can’t keep up

In Canada, there’s an estimated 390,000 COVID long-haulers, which means there’s a lot of people who may be in need of treatment.

Specialized clinics to help long-haulers are popping up across the country, but doctors say demand still far outstrips supply. 

Dr. Kieran Quinn, clinician scientist at Sinai Health and the University of Toronto, is leading a large research program looking at health services for people with post-COVID conditions, which can include a wide range of symptoms from fatigue and shortness of breath to anxiety and difficulty concentrating.

Quinn says doctors across the country are starting to see increased volumes of requests for referrals for specialized clinics.

“Our colleagues in different provinces are reporting up to six-months wait time to get into these clinics and then around the world, the reported wait times in places like Italy, the U.K. and the United States — these clinics are often seven- to nine-month wait times,” Quinn said. Read more

Have you been waiting for treatment or surgery for months, even years? We want to hear your story. Email us at [email protected]

A woman can be seen in a mirror wearing a mask as protection against COVID-19. In Canada, there’s an estimated 390,000 COVID long-haulers in the country and some say they need a team of experts all in one place to treat their diverse range of symptoms. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

How long have you been waiting for a family doctor? For this veteran, it’s been 11 years and counting

A Canadian navy veteran says he’s fed up with waiting for a primary care provider after having been on Prince Edward Island’s wait-list for 11 years.

Matt Dobson moved to P.E.I. in 2011 after being medically released from the navy when he was diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. He had been a member of the Armed Forces for more than a decade.

“I have good days and bad days,” he said. “It’s always constantly there: daily struggles to look after myself, to do even the easiest tasks. When I have my bad days, it’s pretty much paralyzing.”

Dobson first signed up for the province’s patient registry back then. But after not hearing anything for eight years, he decided to call the province in 2019 to check when he would finally have access to a primary caregiver.

“They told me that my name was no longer on the list. That they’d removed everyone off of the list that were above four years. So I had to put my name back on the list and start new again,” Dobson said. 

Dobson is currently on long-term disability and has been unable to work in the last two years because of his condition.

He goes to walk-in clinics to get prescriptions and blood work done, and got a psychiatrist through Veterans Affairs who monitors his medication and also helps him with talk therapy.

While he said he currently has more good days than bad ones, there have been periods when he’s been suicidal. His wife Angie Brighty believes not having a family doctor can be dangerous.

“This can’t go on for one more day,” she said. “Because Matt might not be here tomorrow if no one steps up to help. It’s terrifying.” Read more

Matt Dobson at his home gym. Dobson signed up for the province’s patient registry list when he moved to P.E.I. in 2011 after being medically discharged from the navy. He still doesn’t have a family doctor. (CBC/Laura Meader)

What else is going on?

If you’re travelling soon, here’s what you need to know as of June 15

Vaccine mandates are lifting for flights and trains, but Canadians abroad must still use the ArriveCAN app to submit travel and COVID-19 related information before they come home.

Housing market slowdown continues, with average selling price down 13% since February

Sales volumes are now down to where they were before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly 1 in 4 homeowners say they’d have to sell home if interest rates rise more, according to survey

The Bank of Canada is expected to continue raising interest rates as inflation sits at a record high.

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