Senior loses part of leg after family's concerns allegedly ignored for months in B.C. care facility

Tom Paine's family says their concerns about bruising on his foot were ignored by staff at his care home – until a surgeon eventually had to amputate part of his leg.

It’s something Tom Paine still can barely talk about.

It’s the time in his life when he was shut away from his family, not able to see them in person or, according to his daughter, even speak with them on the phone.

“It was exactly like a prison,” he said in an emotional interview with CTV News, recalling his time spent in a New Westminster care facility.

Paine, now 68, had a stroke last July and ended up in Ridge Meadows Hospital.

His family was able to visit him there, and as he recovered they noticed he had bruising on one of his feet. But an X-ray showed nothing and his daughter says staff reassured the family it wasn’t serious.

His daughter Ashley Paine recalled being told, "it's not broken, it's not broken, he'll be fine."

No longer able to live independently, Tom was transferred from the hospital to Queen’s Park Care Centre in New Westminster.

It was his first time alone in a facility, and his family says they were prevented from visiting because of COVID-19 restrictions for almost two months. They say they were not even granted phone calls during that time period.

“They actually said to my mom that until they could establish who he is, there’s no essential visitors,” explained his daughter.

“Then they told her he seems comfortable enough he didn’t need any visitors.”

But his family says they continued to worry about him on many fronts, including that unexplained bruising on his toes.

“Mom called every day, twice a day to please look at his foot. They just kept telling us it wasn’t broken and they were putting iodine on it,” Ashley Paine explained.

The family says they kept asking that medical staff take a closer look or get a second opinion.

Ashley says when that finally happened, she learned her father had gangrene.

A surgeon would amputate part of his right leg.

“If somebody would have listened, he would still have a leg,” says Ashley.

“I got gangrene in there because they didn’t look after me,” the senior says.

The family is speaking out because they believe the care of seniors in B.C. has to be better.

“It didn’t matter who we called, who we turned to, nobody seemed to give a damn," says Ashley.

She says aging shouldn’t mean being forgotten or ignored.

In a written statement, Fraser Health said it was “troubled to hear about the concerns this person’s family has raised about their care experience at one of our facilities.”

Fraser Health says while it can’t talk about specific cases “we can tell you that whenever an individual is brought to one of our facilities for care, we always work with the patient and their family to update them on a care plan."

“Since the family raised their concerns with us, site leadership has engaged with them to hear their concerns,” the health authority adds.

Meanwhile, Tom Paine and his family are grateful for the care he’s receiving after being transferred to a different facility in Maple Ridge.

“Now they’re fantastic,” he said of the staff.

His daughter says staff at the new facility are “wonderful."

"They communicate. It’s like night and day.”