The Rotary Flames House has been a lifeline for Lia Lousier and her family over the years, but that lifeline is coming to a temporary, yet still unexpected end.
Lousier’s 11-year-old son Braeden has Hajdu-Cheney syndrome, an extremely rare condition that affects many of his organs and bones. He has struggled with health problems all his life.
Lousier said it was critical for her and her three sons to get a break from the daily demands at home.
“It was a very positive experience,” she said of her family’s time at the Rotary Flames House. “That’s something parents rely on — to know that someone has your back,”
Alberta Health Services announced Friday that staff at Rotary Flames House are being redeployed to the Alberta Children’s Hospital due to an increase in respiratory illnesses.
All customers will be discharged by Tuesday. All other services provided at the Rotary Flames House, including palliative and end-of-life care, consultative support, outpatient programming and grief support, will be temporarily relocated to the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
‘The numbers are staggering’: Patient surge at Alberta Children’s Hospital prompts suspension of respite services
“My first reaction was anger,” Lousier said. “Then it was sad because it’s important to have that one place that’s a home away from home that gives parents that time where they can sleep or they can take a short vacation or trip to see family,”
“My thought when I saw this was why are we, as a society, forcing AHS to make difficult decisions when we can do things differently,” said Dr. Jon Meddings said when he first heard the news on Friday.
Meddings, a former dean of the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, said a number of things could have been done differently before the crisis in pediatric care.
He is frustrated with the low vaccination rates for flu and COVID booster shots and with the pushback against preventive measures, such as masking.
Health experts are concerned about Alberta’s low flu vaccine uptake: ‘We’re seeing healthy kids being taken away’
“What I cannot forgive is that our government is actually pushing for public health restrictions not to be in place. I’m not talking about restrictions, but voluntarily, I would like to see some of our government leaders stand up and say we have a crisis in our health care system,” Meddings said.
Meddings said vaccination is extremely critical as the first line of defense.
“Children die. Children’s care is delayed. There is not enough ICU space. They are going to be children who needlessly die from this who should not have done this.”
Meddings said it’s important that people who are misinformed are encouraged by elected officials to follow proven health recommendations.
“To see people they trust and believe in standing up and saying, ‘For heaven’s sake, do the right thing. I do it.’ But when the message is actually subtly the opposite, it has devastating effects on our health care system and we’re seeing it happen.
“I’m not saying that we should mask every year, but I think we know there are some simple things that prevent it. Simple things that we should either voluntarily do or simple things that our government and our public health officials should strongly encourage us to do. “
Lousier said it is a difficult time for parents of vulnerable children who lose respite care and the constant worry of ending up in hospital.
“I think the root of all the evil in all of this is misinformation,” Lousier said.
An AHS official said Sunday, “we know this respite care decision is difficult for our clients and families. We will resume normal services as soon as possible.”
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.