Stop the Bad Care of Eric Wegiel at George Pearson Centre

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Imagine being in a body that simply doesn't work. You cannot move. You cannot speak. Your entire existence is based upon the help of others. You can't laugh, or cry out loud. If you have an itchy nose, you cannot scratch it.

Imagine all of this but you are very much alive on the inside. You can still think. You are cognitively aware. You have emotions. You are still you but you are locked inside a body that does not work.

For some people, this is not merely a nightmare- it is reality. It is the reality of people living with Ameyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. It is the reality for a man named Eric Wegiel.

Due to Eric's complex care needs, Eric must live in a long-term care home. He currently resides in George Pearson Centre, a care home located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

You'd think that living with ALS would be difficult enough...but it gets worse.
Because imagine you are sick with this horrific disease but on top of that, you are faced with receiving substandard care and even abuse. You are routinely neglected.

You are left for hours to sit alone in an uncomfortable position, with nobody to help you. You have a call bell, which you can push with the one remaining movement you have by using your head, but...the call bell has not been placed next you where it should be.

You're supposed to be able to pass the time by doing the one thing you CAN do- watching TV. Except, your care aide never turned your TV on for you today. And so, you sit in pain...waiting for someone to help you. Often, you wait for hours.

This is what Eric deals with.

One time, his call bell was put near him as it should be. Except, it malfunctioned. Something was wrong with it electrically. Eric sat in his chair being burnt by the faulty call bell for FOUR hours until his parents came to visit him and noticed what was happening.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Eric's parents would visit him every single day. And now, George Pearson Centre is on lockdown with very strict rules which means no more than one visitor at a time for an hour at most and absolutely NO touching allowed. This means that families cannot provide the care for their loved ones that is lacking. Nails are not trimmed. Hair is not cut. Comforting hugs are a thing of the past. Covid-19 has made an already unbearable situation worse.

Eric's family pays to have a camera inside his room. This allows them the comfort of being able to see him whenever they wish. It is a tiny peace of mind. But for years now, whenever they log in to check on Eric, often his camera is not even facing him, purposely covered up or isn't even on at all.

Eric has suffered many needless infections due to poor care and neglect. Recently, he had three E. Coli infections in the span of 30 days. This resulted in him being hospitalized in the ICU at VGH for weeks.

Eric's wellbeing and safety is not considered. During this current pandemic, his family has witnessed staff going into his room without proper PPE. It is a matter of time before Eric contacts another infection or at the very worst, Covid-19 itself.

Eric's family demands better care for their loved one. They demand that his call bell be put next to him at all times so that he may use his last form of communication should he require assistance. They demand that his TV be on and his camera also be on, uncovered and facing him at all times.

They demand that Eric be treated with the utmost respect, care and compassion and that his needs be met. Anything less is abuse. Eric and his family demand this abuse be stopped.

All previous efforts to address Eric's care have fallen on deaf ears. Nothing changes, despite contacting the highest authority.

And that is the purpose of this petition. We are asking Health Minister Adrian Dix to please read this petition and ensure Eric receives the care he requires and deserves.

Please, sign this petition. Help us get Eric and his family some much needed assistance in me much needed assistance in this matter. Help a sick man and his heartbroken family attain some measure of peace. Thank you sincerely.

Agnes Cayer, sister of Erik Wegiel