A Winnipeg grandmother says she received a phone call from a provincial clerk asking her to return her grandson’s medical equipment just days after the 12-year-old boy’s death.
“I was totally nervous, I didn’t believe what they were asking,” Theresa Jobse said.
Jobse said a representative from the Materials Distribution Agency, which distributes medical supplies on behalf of the province, called on Aug. 9. The call came just one day after the family notified the province of Caleb McKague’s death, and four days after Caleb McKague’s death. A 12-year-old boy died.
She said the clerk had a list of medical items in the family’s possession and asked that they be returned to her.
“My heart almost stopped,” he said. “I got really upset. I said, ‘how can you call now, at a time like this?'”
Jobse said the man on the phone apologized and told him he didn’t know why he had been asked to retrieve the equipment.
“I’m not even sure what items he was listing because I stopped him right in the middle of the sentence,” she continued. “It took me a while to calm down.”
Jobse said she asked the agent to tell her manager to contact her, but did not hear back for eight days.
She said she was contacted by a manager from the Health and Disability Support Unit, which the province says works closely with MDA to help people access health-related equipment and supplies.
That call came on August 16, a day after the boy’s mother posted a description of the initial conversation with the agent on social media.
“They apologized to me, they said that this shouldn’t have happened and that they will review their procedures and change things to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Jobse said.
touched everyone’s heart
Jobse said his grandson died unexpectedly on Aug. 5.
Caleb had cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and used a wheelchair and feeding tubes. But even though his health conditions made him non-verbal, Jobse said he could still charm the people he met.
“He had such bright eyes,” she said. “And her laugh was so contagious.
“Cognitively, he understood everything you said, he just couldn’t respond with words,” he explained. “But she said things through his eyes.”
Jobse said Caleb’s death came on the heels of two other tough losses. Her mother died in June and her husband died in 2022 after waiting alone in an ER due to COVID-19 restrictions at the time.
“It’s been a difficult few years for our family,” he said.
She said Caleb was very close with her younger sister and two cousins, children the same age who played together and went out with their grandparents.
Jobse said the boy’s parents and other relatives are taking the news hard, as are their neighbors.
“Everybody in Transcona knows him because he went everywhere with us,” Jobse said, adding that Caleb served as an ambassador for the Society of Manitobans with Disabilities in 2017 and 2018.
“He touched everyone’s hearts wherever he went.”
In a written statement, the province said it could not comment on specific cases, but said the Health and Disability Support Unit “works carefully with the Materials Distribution Agency (MDA) to track its inventory, and when notifies DHSU that the equipment is unavailable.” needs more time, DHSU informs MDA that the equipment must be returned.”
The statement confirmed that the unit “regularly reviews procedures and will work to improve communication between agencies to ensure there is sensitivity around any contact with a bereaved family.”
CLOCK | Family shocked by agency call:
Jobse said he expects the people in charge to follow through on that promise.
“I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to another family, that they get a call before they bury their son,” he said.
Jobse said they will contact the Materials Distribution Agency later this month to return the inventory, after the family gathers for the celebration of the boy’s life.