The first day of school for an eight-year-old GTA boy ended with him all alone in a hospital bed, his arms and legs restrained, injected with a sedative.
“When I saw him, I held back my tears because I didn’t want him more upset,” the boy’s mother said. “In his face, I could see that he was destroyed inside.”
The boy, whom CityNews has chosen not to identify, has a history of educational and behavioral issues. When he ran away from school on the first day, his school called police and he was taken to Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket.
By the time his mother got there, she found him in the restraints.
“I had asked them, ‘Can you please undo my son? I am here now,’” she explained.
“They said no. He said, ‘Mommy, please. Mom, please. Get them to undo it. It’s too tight, it’s too tight.’ He said he was feeling strange because of the drug.”
The hospital said restraints — both physical bindings and sedatives — can be used to protect the patient.
“The safety of our patients and our staff is paramount,” Southlake spokeswoman Nancy Gale said.
“In extreme situations where there is an imminent risk or threat to a patient and our staff, based on a medical assessment by a physician, we use restraints as a short-term intervention to protect a patient.
“No one wants to use restraints; it is a last measure and is done only in dire situations deemed an ‘emergency.’”
The boy’s mother said the bigger issue is she’s been trying for years to get help for mental health issues and is on three separate wait lists, all running at least a year.
“A year wait list from now might be too late for my son,” she said. “He’s just going to get himself in more trouble.”
Even though the first day of school was traumatic, his mother had hoped it might finally be a turning point and the hospital would keep him there and he would get treatment.
“He was in those restraints an hour and a half, and they did not keep him,” she said. “I thought that would be the next best thing … They just released him.”
Hospital staff told the woman to follow up with her son’s doctor and get a referral for a behavioural program they offer at the hospital. But the woman said there’s a wait list for that too.
“Upon assessment by a physician and psychiatrist, a decision is made to determine whether remaining in hospital is best for a patient,” Gale said. “Often resources in the community provide longer-term support and treatment.”
Meanwhile, the College of Nurses of Ontario said consent is usually required for any treatment for a child, except in an emergency situation when a parent or substitute decision-maker is not available.