George Paterakis is an only child, primary caregiver and holds the power of attorney for his elderly mother Penelope Paterakis.
Penelope was a Greek-speaking 84-year-old who had previously been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, which had been progressively getting worse. This resulted in a fall that landed Penelope in the Emergency Department at the Trenton Memorial Hospital in Ontario in November of 2021.
At the onset of an Emergency Department visit, George began to question the care plan that was being implemented for his mother. Due to COVID-related restrictions, he was not immediately able to be by his mother’s bedside — a theme that would continue throughout the duration of her stay.
Penelope was originally brought to the hospital with a fractured tibia which resulted in her being sedated. “The organs all looked fine — the lungs, the heart — so it didn’t make sense why the hospital was urging me to ‘do something,’ to come up with a ‘plan,’” George recounts as he discusses that he was pressured into signing a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order shortly after arrival.
After testing showed that Penelope may have suffered a stroke at some point before her hospital admission, staff cited Penelope as a choking hazard and halted George’s ability to feed her.
George advocated strongly to feed his mother, who expressed in Greek that she wanted to be fed. He continued to translate his mother's wishes and offered her soft foods such as yogurts, puddings and apple sauces. It was only after rigmarole with a specialist that Penelope was given clearance to be administered a pureed diet. George was pleased that with this nutrition, his mother was gaining strength and energy again.
Yet when the hospital went into a “Red Zone” in January 2022, George says that he was prevented access to his mother.
After a worrying phone call with his mother that resulted in an abrupt disconnection, George called the police to tend to a wellness check on his mother. “It sounds like your mother is being held hostage,” George recounts of the 9-1-1 operator's response. Police arrived to check on Penelope, assured George that she was fine and then proceeded to inform him that he had trespassed on hospital property.
Approximately one week later, George received a voicemail from the Manager of Patient Services Danielle Vince asking him to return her call. George checked the message after administrator hours so opted to wait until the morning to call back.
Little did he know that there would be no need to return that fateful call. He was awoken a few hours later, around 5:30 a.m., to police officers at his door.
They were there to inform George that his mother had passed away at 3 a.m.
“I was not kept in the loop on anything – feeding schedules, that she was taking a turn for the worse, nothing,” George says. In fact, the last time George had seen his mother was 6 weeks prior to her death.
“My mother died alone, afraid, hungry, confused and feeling… maybe… abandoned by her son. At the hands of Quinte Health Care.”
I reached out to Quinte Health Sciences for comment but unfortunately, at the time of this report, no one responded to my request for comment.