February 14, 2022 | Updated Feb 15 – It has been one month since a squad of RCMP officers entered the home of Eileen and Trevor Wicks in Qualicum Beach, BC without warning, handcuffed Mr. Wicks and apprehended both husband and wife. Trevor Wicks was released within hours on the same day. Eileen Wicks continues to be detained in a locked ward by Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH).
READ previous stories:
- RCMP squad enters BC condo without legal authority, apprehends couple in their 70s
- Apprehensions of Eileen & Trevor Wicks become murkier
Trevor Wicks says that, to date, neither the hospital (NRGH) nor Island Health, which is responsible for hospitals and health service delivery on Vancouver Island, have provided him with any explanation or documentation to confirm who made the decision to abduct Eileen on January 12, 2022, and why she is still being detained.
On January 29, 2022 Trevor Wicks, legal Representative for Eileen, faxed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the NRGH. “The answer has to be in the records,” said Wicks. When Nanaimo Hospital did not respond to or even acknowledge his FOI request, Mr. Wicks asked his Member of Parliament for help.
Almost two weeks later, on Thursday, February 10th, following several email exchanges between the offices of MP Gord Johns and James Hanson, Vice-President of Clinical Services for Island Health, Hanson’s office confirmed receipt of Trevor Wicks’ FOI request. Hanson’s staff stated that they had “connected with Island Health’s Freedom of Information (FOI) office on this inquiry… The legislated due date to respond to the request is March 15, 2022. They have opened the request and are preparing the records call.”
Mr. Wicks has also filed FOI requests for records from the RCMP, the Comox Valley Hospital and the Town of Qualicum Beach. All of these FOI requests were promptly acknowledged, and the records are being compiled. Some of the requested records have already been provided to Mr. Wicks from these other organizations, but not Nanaimo Hospital.
Elder abuse by authorities?
“This could be considered elder abuse,” says Trevor Wicks, still recovering from the shock of the apprehension he and his wife experienced, and the anguish he feels about his wife being detained on a locked ward with no clear information about why this is happening.
“Yesterday,” said Wicks several days ago, “the head nurse on the ward, Angel I think she said her name is, told me that she will try to get Eileen discharged on Monday [Feb 14th],” he says. But Mr. Wicks has heard the hospital staff give similar assurances several times over the past four weeks, and still the hospital continues to refuse his request to release his wife. “Eileen told me the other day, ‘this is cruel and unusual punishment,’ ” says Wicks.
Inconsistency and lack of Island Health transparency continue to confound his understanding of what is happening and why. Wicks says he was told last week by other staff that “they want Eileen to go into a long-term care facility!” Both Eileen and Trevor Wicks have long expressed their rejection of long term institutional care. Wicks explained that Eileen was influenced by her father’s negative experience in a nursing home before he died. Eileen’s Representation Agreement includes the statement, “Independence and being able to look after my basic needs are an essential part of my quality of life. I do not wish or intend to allow myself to become permanently dependent on others…”
According to Trevor Wicks, Eileen stipulated to her husband and to her doctor that she never wanted to go into a nursing home. Eileen requested and, Trevor Wicks says, was approved by a panel of doctors, for medical assistance in dying (MAID). [See additional information below explaining Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying law, enacted in 2016.] Eileen stipulated that she would tell her husband and doctors when she felt ready. “We discuss this from time to time,” says Wicks, “but Eileen says she is not ready to die, that she is enjoying life too much right now.” Wicks says, “maybe the time might come in a year or two, it’s hard to tell. She has good days and not-so-good days. It’s her short term memory that is most affected.”
The Wicks’ desires have not been a secret. Not only their physicians, but also their friends and family, and even the public, have known about their wishes for years. Trevor Wicks has been actively involved with the Alzheimer’s Society, and has had an article published about dying with dignity.
Last week Trevor Wicks was informed by the Nanaimo Hospital that “Eileen is no longer approved for MAID.” He was shocked. “How can they do that? Just take her from me and our home, and put her in long term care, what she’s always said she never wanted!” Wicks says he has not received any documents to explain how or why she is “no longer approved” for MAID.
Island Health acknowledges Trevor Wicks as wife’s “substitute decision maker” but says 21-yr-old granddaughter must accompany the couple when “off unit”
On February 9, Joanna Salken, Director, Community Health Services at the Nanaimo/Oceanside Health Centre, Island Health sent a letter to Trevor Wicks with the following opening paragraph:
Mr. Wicks: From recent correspondence, as a result of your approaching your MLA [Member of Legislative Assembly], Island Health is now in receipt of the representation agreement made for Eileen under S. 9 of the Representation Agreement Act. Please note that this is the first time Island Health has seen this docmentation. We are glad to be able to follow this documentation and acknowledge you as substitute decision maker for Eileen’s medical care needs as care planning moves forward. Please note that Eileen remains at NRGH under Section 59 of the Adult Guardianship Act. For safety reasons she is still only permitted off unit with you if accompanied by your daughter, Sharon, or your grand-daughter. Joanna Salken, Director, Community Health Services Nanaimo/Oceanside Health Centre, Island Health
According to Mr. Wicks, and to evidence obtained by Second Opinion QB, Ms. Salken’s claim that Island Health had not seen the Representation Agreement confirming Trevor Wicks to be Eileen’s Representative (substitute decision maker) until “recent correspondence, as a result of your approachinging your MLA” is not correct. Island Health had been advised of the couple’s enduring Power of Attorney and Representation Agreement documents much earlier by Trevor Wicks and by his daughter Sharon.
Island Health’s letter does not explain the contradiction of acknowledging that Trevor Wicks has the legal authority to make decisions for his wife, and in the very same paragraph telling him that his daughter or 21-year-old granddaughter must accompany him and his wife whenever “off unit.” Nor does Ms. Salken explain in any way whatsoever specifically what “safety concerns” Island Health has, and whose safety they are concerned about. Hiding behind such vague and contradictory language only fuels Mr. Wicks’ and the public’s growing suspicions that Island Health and Nanaimo Regional General Hospital are hiding something, and that their lack of transparency may be an attempt to cover up errors and culpability.
READ the full letter sent by Joanna Salken, Island Health’s Director of Community Health Services, Nanaimo/Oceanside Health Centre below:
Records reveal allegations against Trevor Wicks; dismissed by hospital doctors and by Trevor Wicks
Shock and bewilderment cascading across his face, Trevor Wicks reads the records that he obtained from Comox Valley Hospital through a Freedom of Information Request. Yes, the records confirm that he received a clean bill of mental health from the two physicians, one a psychiatrist, who assessed him on January 12 — as clean a bill of health as anyone could get.
Then “background” notes written by Island Health social workers and psychiatric nurses emerge. “Murder-suicide pact with demented wife” is the first thing one sees when reviewing the records. “Oceanside geriatric organized apprehension here [Comox hospital] for psych assess. Calm and coop at presentation with RCMP,” are the opening lines under “Chief Complaint.” Hand-written notes state, “Pt [patient] brought in by RCMP in handcuffs. Pt was at home with wife making breakfast and apprehended due to potential suicide/homicide plan with wife.”
The identity of the person or persons who actually made the original allegations about Trevor Wicks that triggered the couple’s abduction is still shrouded in Island Health’s records. It is surprising that the health care industry is still using words like “demented,” a dehumanizing term that one thought would have been discarded along with words such as “retarded.”
The notes include this passage from Grahame Hopkins, a psychiatric nurse for Oceanside Health Centre, “This [apprehension] had been arranged after it became more apparent that his Murder / Suicide pact he had with his wife was now in the too high a risk zone to wait any longer.” Hopkins continues, “… as her Alzheimer’s has progressed Trevor has spoken more about the pact… [redacted]. However, he and they have been preparing for the pacts conclusion by getting their wills in order, making an audio of them singing their favourite songs, attending Dying with dignity meetings and had made a video of their wishes and sent it to his daughter and had been working on their obituaries, etc. …He also verbalized that “right now it is bearable but sometimes it’s a struggle.’ …He was quite hostile and somewhat belligerent…” with RCMP. — Excerpts from Grahame Hopkins’ notes in FOI records obtained from Comox hospital, printed verbatim without alteration or correction.
Trevor Wicks vehemently refutes these allegations. He says, “This was not murder-suicide! This is false information. They’ve twisted what I said. I would never murder my wife. It was arranged so that I would have nothing to do with it!” Wicks says that Eileen’s doctor said he would arrange to have MAID for Eileen when Eileen decided her life was intolerable. “Her life is not intolerable,” he says — until now that she is being detained in a hospital ward against her wishes.
This apparent obsession on the part of social workers and psychiatric nurses about suicide-murder-homicide is troubling, say doctors contacted about this story by Second Opinion QB. It is grossly inappropriate for these “non-medical” workers [social workers and psychiatric nurses] to accuse anyone who chooses to plan for Medical Assistance In Dying as planning a “suicide/homicide.” That is a term used by some extremist critics of Canada’s Medical Assistance In Dying law (MAID) law. MAID became legal in June 2016, and has since been amended to broaden its scope. Since then, many people have chosen when to end their lives rather than living a life they feel is “intolerable.” In Canada, people have that right under the law.
Words and labels do matter — as you can hear in this 2016 video made by Trevor Wicks himself.
The records also contain notes from psychiatric nurse Katherine J. Cenerini, who, along with another Island Health worker, attended the Wicks’ home, without notice on January 14, two days after the apprehension. Cenerini writes, “Client stated he is in the process of cleaning and keeping himself busy in an effort to cope with the recent traumatic event as is detailed in past Cerner [hospital computer system] notes. … Client appears to be in disbelief of what occurred and questions the legality of it. Client appeard well kempt. He maintained appropriate eye contact. Speech was clear and coherent. Conversation was hyperverbal, rambling, and focused his life with his wife and the current events. Thoughts are strictly focused on his plan that he had in place for dignicide. He is devastated that this has come to an end.” — Excerpts from Katherine J. Cenerini notes in FOI records obtained from Comox hospital, printed verbatim without alteration or correction.
Trevor Wicks is astounded. He says it is a false characterization that puts words in his mouth that he didn’t say.
After learning of the allegations in the FOI documents from Comox hospital, Trevor Wicks received a phone call from Joanna Salken. Wicks says he told Joanna Salken that the records painted a false picture, that he believed they were “doing this to make me out as a villain! I told her, ‘you are creating a lie to keep Eileen in there!’ I told her I want Eileen to be discharged. She [Salken] said they [Island Health staff committee] would have to have another meeting. I said, ‘It didn’t take a committee to decide to do this to us, so it shouldn’t need a committe to discharge Eileen! I asked her, What do you plan to do? and she said, ‘I’ll call you in a week.’ I said, ‘No you won’t, you’ll do something about this today. Find a way.”
Wicks followed up his telephone comments with a letter to Joanna Salken, copying other Island Health staff, social workers Janice Mills, Julie K. Speers and Maeris Boudreau, in which he firmly challenges Island Health’s allegations and actions, and requests yet again that Eileen be discharged into his care so she can return to their home.
A surprising revelation turned up in the records obtained from Comox Valley Hospital — Island Health was apparently planning the January 12th surprise “emergency” apprehension of the couple weeks earlier, in December 2021. There is no explanation for why, if Island Health felt this was an emergency necessitating the use of brutal force against Eileen and Trevor Wicks, that Island Health decided to wait so long before taking any action.
Read Trevor Wicks’ response to allegations revealed in FOI records
Community support grows
The community is shocked by the events of the apprehension, and the continued detention of Eileen Wicks by Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Friends of the couple have launched a petition demanding that Eileen Wicks be released immediately: Change.org/FreeEileenWicks
Kathy Wilson says, “I have known Trevor and Eileen for over 30 years, very respected and well loved couple. Have seen the challenges they faced TOGETHER and can’t imagine what Eileen is going thru on her own now. Absolute Nightmare!” Jamie LaPorte said, “Eileen is a wonderful, loving, caring grandmother who has not hurt anyone.” Paula Stockdale writes, “I know these two beautiful people. This is a travesty!” Lance Nater wrote, “I know Trevor and Eileen. Their treatment is simply unacceptable and should serve as a warning to all seniors.” Sheila Smith says, “I worked many years with Eileen for [School] District 69. This is a total misunderstanding and needs to be rectified immediately. They were a loving couple then and I’m sure they still are.” Doreen Bakstad says, “I know these people. I have witnessed Trevor’s care of Eileen when at public functions. What has happened to them through these events hurts my heart.”
Today is Valentines Day, but Trevor Wicks can’t visit his wife because a health care worker “companion” has been assigned to Eileen and this companion will be spending Valentine’s Day with Eileen instead of Trevor.
WATCH: Several readers who have also had experiences similar to that of the Wicks recommended a top-rated 2020 movie called I Care A Lot. This movie exposes the world of fraudulent state and court guardianships (or conservatorships, as they are called in the United States, as many people will recall from the Britney Spears case).
Movie reviewer Christy Lemire writing in RogerEbert.com describes the story line in I Care A Lot, “A doctor selects an elderly patient who looks like a good candidate for guardianship: a person of solid financial means who’s not too old and infirm just yet, but possibly on the brink of dementia. A judge signs a court order asserting that this woman can no longer care for herself and needs someone else to step in and help. A legal guardian shows up at the woman’s house with the document, saying she’s in charge now and insisting she’ll take good care of her property and finances. A driver whisks her away to a nursing home where the manager escorts her to a private room, promising she’ll be treated like a queen…” READ full review at RogerEbert.com. I Care A Lot is available from Amazon.
READ February 2022 BBC News story reporting on unlawful detentions in United Kingdom hospitals.
READ RELATED STORIES in Second Opinion QB:
Feb 14, 2022: Authorities – breaking the letter & spirit of the law
Story last updated – February 15, 2022