Health authority ‘dumps’ bloody Squamish woman, 75, at Abbotsford shelter

Barbara Lowery at the Salvation Army Abbotsford shelter in Abbotsford. The 75-year-old Squamish woman says she was taken to the Abbotsford shelter by a social…
By Glenda Luymes, The Province October 20, 2014
Squamish senior Barbara Lowery arrived at the Salvation Army emergency shelter in Abbotsford Thursday afternoon bleeding and confused.

Three days later, the 75-year-old woman is struggling to understand why she was transported two hours from Squamish to Abbotsford by a social worker, while the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority is vowing a thorough review of the senior’s situation.

The Province met with Lowery Saturday morning in the empty dining hall of the Abbotsford shelter. The slight, pale woman was in noticeable pain as she recalled the events that brought her to the Fraser Valley.

“I’m stuck,” she said. “I just want to go back to where I know people.”
Lowery said she has lived in Squamish for about 30 years and has a daughter in the community, although the two rarely speak.

On Tuesday, the senior fell down a flight of stairs at the Squamish Budget Inn, where the manager confirmed she had been staying for about two weeks.
“I hit my head and injured my shoulder and ribs,” said Lowery, putting a hand to one shoulder.

Vancouver Coastal Health confirmed the woman was seen by staff at Squamish General Hospital on Tuesday. She had “extensive X-rays,” but nothing appeared to be broken, said spokesman Gavin Wilson. She was discharged into the community.

Lowery told The Province she returned to the inn Wednesday, but her memory is hazy after that. “I wasn’t thinking very clearly,” she said.

Reached in Squamish, her close friend Josyf Stanishevskyj said Lowery was unable to pay for her room at the inn. Her social worker told her there was no shelter available in Squamish or Vancouver, but “she could take her to the Salvation Army in Abbotsford,” recalled Stanishevskyj.

Lowery has no family or connections in Abbotsford, and several times during interviews with The Province forgot the name of the city.

Homeless advocate and Abbotsford Today columnist James Breckenridge was having coffee at the Salvation Army Thursday afternoon when he noticed someone wearing a Vancouver Coastal Health identification badge escorting an elderly woman into the shelter. There was blood on the woman’s shirt. While the social worker spoke to staff, Breckenridge said he approached Lowery.

“She was extremely tired and asked lie down,” he recalled. He asked a nurse to bandage her elbows, which were bleeding. Lowery said the wounds were the result of her fall at the inn.
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