Skip to main content

'There are no words': Dementia patient suffers third-degree burns at northern Ont. long-term care home

A northern Ontario woman is speaking out about staffing shortages at provincial long-term care homes after her husband suffered third-degree burns while under care at a Sudbury facility.

Frank Bruhmuller suffered first, second and third-degree burns as a dementia patient at Extendicare York in Sudbury. (Supplied)

Diane Bruhmuller, of Espanola, told CTV News in an interview she received a call from Health Sciences North (HSN) at 4:15 a.m. on Feb. 16 saying her 75-year-old husband, Frank, was being transported there with severe burns.

"My husband might not get full use of his hand again because of this," Bruhmuller said.

It happened at Extendicare York, where Frank is a dementia patient.

"The emergency doctor at that time said he had never seen anything like that come into the emergency department from any long-term care facility," Bruhmuller said.

He suffered first, second and third-degree burns.

Through her conversation with the doctor, she said she knew how serious his injuries were.

"(The doctor) said 'don’t let this slide.' And I said ‘I will not.’ So then I knew it was serious," Bruhmuller said.

"There are no words. I’m furious."

She said her husband had to undergo plastic surgery and grafting of his hand and arm as a result.

He is back at Extendicare recovering and in a lot of pain, she said.

Frank Bruhmuller is recovering from first, second and third-degree burns as a dementia patient at Extendicare York in Sudbury. (Supplied)

He has a check-up next Wednesday to see how his hand is healing.

"A resident at Extendicare York was sent to hospital for treatment after his bed was moved too close to a radiator, a location that is clearly inappropriate and far out of line with our safety policies," a spokesperson for Extendicare told CTV News in a statement Thursday.

Extendicare said it is deeply saddened by this incident and apologizes to the family.

"The resident’s bed was moved to the correct location in the room," the statement reads. "In addition, the home has been audited to ensure all resident beds are in appropriate locations in line with our safety policies."

The care home will undergo audits in the future to ensure nothing like this ever happens again, Extendicare said.

In response, Bruhmuller said she doesn’t blame any particular person at Extendicare for the incident, but it points to larger issues of short staffing.

"The whole long-term care system is broken. It’s shattered," she said.

Bruhmuller said she is pursuing legal action.

"It doesn’t bring back Frank’s arm or hand, but something has to be brought to light for all long-term care, not just (Extendicare) York." 

Diane and Frank Bruhmuller (Supplied) Top Stories

Stay Connected