Coroner Investigates 31 Deaths At Herron Quebec Seniors Residence


MONTREAL – The Quebec coroner’s office announced Sunday that it will investigate the deaths of dozens of seniors in a private long-term care facility west of Montreal, linked to what Prime Minister François Legault described as a possible case of “gross negligence”.

The office said in a statement that it would investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths and make recommendations if necessary.

“Remember, coroners intervene in cases of death that is violent, obscure or that may have occurred as a result of negligence,” the coroner’s office said in a statement.

A police investigation was opened this weekend after the regional health authorities were able to access the patients’ files at Residence Herron and found that 31 of the 150 elderly people in the residence had died since March 13. The Quebec Ministry of Health is also investigating.


The Premier of Quebec, François Legault, coughs into his hand as he speaks at a press conference on the COVID-19 pandemic on Saturday.

Legault said at least five of the deaths were due to COVID-19, but the number may increase.

“Honestly, I think … there has been gross negligence at the Herron Residence,” said Legault on Saturday.

Authorities first inspected the Herron residence on March 29, three days after the first death was announced. They found the residence “deserted” because the staff had left work.

Lynne McVey, head of the health council, said her team had started helping the understaffed workers to feed, wash and change patients, but only learned of the extent of the problem after getting a legal order allowing them to display the contact details of families and patient medical records.

Residences linked to a large proportion of deaths due to COVID-19

Katasa Group, owner of the residence and several others, did not respond to requests for comment and the house is now under government supervision.

The story of the Herron Residence is just the latest report on the worrisome conditions in long-term and nursing homes, which are linked to a high percentage of COVID-19 deaths in the country.

This includes another residence in Laval, north of Montreal, where 21 people died and 115 tested positive for COVID-19.

The coroner’s office said in its statement that it is not currently investigating other homes, but that it is monitoring the situation and can intervene if necessary.

In a statement released on Sunday, the provincial health ministry confirmed that it will inspect 40 private long-term care centers in the province in the coming days.

“Every effort is made to protect the elderly and avoid tragic situations such as the one observed in Herron’s private long-term care center which is not covered by an agreement,” the statement said.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, deplored the deaths COVID-19 caused in Canada’s long-term care facilities on Sunday, describing it as a “tragic legacy” of this pandemic. “

“These heartbreaking events highlighted the need for strict infection prevention and control measures and led to the development of infection prevention and control guidelines for long-term care homes,” she added. .

These guidelines include strict rules on who can enter these facilities and detailed instructions on how to minimize the risk of an epidemic through proper hygiene and screening.

The Quebec Ombudsman launched an investigation into the Herron residence in 2017 after receiving complaints, including inadequate nursing care, a poor approach to patients with cognitive difficulties, complaints about food and a lack of communication with families.

The investigation revealed that the establishment provided adequate care, but the mediator warned in his report that management had to make sure that there were enough suitably trained staff, given his intention to increase the number of staff. patients.

In 2019, an inspection of health and social services did not identify any particular problem with clinical practices, but made recommendations, in particular the development of a policy to combat ill-treatment, as well as the improved communications with residents and their families, particularly in the areas of residents’ human rights, end-of-life decisions and palliative care.

This Canadian Press report was first published on April 12, 2020

With files from Lee Berthiaume

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