B.C. senior speaks out about horrific treatment at Victoria General Hospital

Nadine Kalinauskas
Daily Brew
Bert Matthews wants answers as to why he was tackled and restrained during a recent visit to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, B.C.

Last month, in response to reports of abuse and widespread problems with the government care system, British Columbia became the first Canadian province to appoint a seniors' advocate.

Bert Matthews' story only emphasizes the need for such an advocate.

Matthews, 92, a retired lawyer and decorated WWII bomber pilot, was rushed to the emergency room at Victoria General Hospital fearing signs of a stroke or heart attack.

After an initial examination, he was admitted to a psychiatric ward instead.

He told CBC News that when he tried to leave in the middle of the night, he was tackled by four nurses.

"They jumped on me, held me down, pinned me to the bed and shackled me," he said.

[ Related: Elderly couple demand hospital end 'illegal detention' ]

When his son Bob came to visit the next day, he found Matthews tied to his hospital bed with a restraining strap across his chest.

"I couldn't believe it," Bob said.

"I've been shot at ... I've been machine-gunned. I've been everything, but it's not as bad as being strapped to bed as a helpless big man," Matthews said of his horrifying hospital visit.

Due to privacy legislation, the hospital can't discuss the family's specific allegations.

"Island Health regrets that the family is dissatisfied with the care their father received ... we will look into the circumstances surrounding the case," said a statement issued by the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Last week, an elderly Victoria couple went to the B.C. Supreme Court "to take back control of their lives" and end what they are calling "illegal detention" after they were admitted to psychiatric ward at Victoria General Hospital under the Mental Health Act — and had their bank accounts frozen — when they went to the hospital for care.

Douglas and Pamela Allen also listed numerous care complaints about the care they were receiving at the hospital ward where they were being held.

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"They're bored – my clients have not had a breath of fresh air since they went into the general hospital. No windows have been opened for them," their lawyer, Jonathan Aiyadurai, told CBC News. "They haven't been allowed outside. The husband has been put in a straitjacket — very draconian and Kafkaesque if I may say, and this is all at the taxpayers' expense."

The hospital diagnosed both Douglas and Pamela with dementia. They have had no access to their personal belongings since being admitted to the hospital.

The 84-year-old Allens claim they can care for themselves with the help of a nurse, daily care they are willing to pay for at their independent living unit.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority, however, claims the couple has been evicted from a number of independent living facilities due to their inability to look after themselves — and their refusal to accept any home support.

"I want to go to my home," said Pamela a video statement. "They won't let us go to our own home and we haven't done anything."