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 over the weekend after regional health authorities were able to access the patient files at Residence Herron and found that 31 of the 150 elderly people in the residence had died since March 13.
Criminal investigation after 31 deaths in the Montreal nursing home
Legault said at least five of the deaths were due to COVID-19, but the number may increase.
“Quite honestly, I think … there has been gross negligence at the Herron Residence,” said Legault on Saturday.
Sunday, a rabid Keira Whitehead stood in front of the residence with her family. Last Friday, his 89-year-old father, John Whitehead, died there.
“The situation is getting worse. It’s the staff, the management, the owner. They will have to pay, ”she told Global News.
Montreal police major crime unit crime scene investigators were on site on Sunday.
“We collect documents, we capture things like work schedules, employee lists, the different types of evidence that we will analyze,” said Montreal Police spokesperson André Durocher. Officers will also meet with staff, residents and family members to see if there is enough evidence to lay charges.
Sam Abracen, 102, was among the 31 dead in Herron. According to his family, Abracen was always dynamic and sharp. They want to know how the last days of his life went.
“In the past four or five days, not only have I not been able to contact my grandfather, but I have not been able to call anyone on the phone, no nurse or anything. Then the next call you get is that he’s gone, “said Clifford Albert, the grandson of the Abracens. Abracen died on April 6 after the establishment was placed under government supervision.
Medical malpractice lawyer Patrick Martin-Menard said that a simple coroner’s inquest was not enough and that the families deserved a public inquiry into what had happened in Herron.
Coronavirus outbreak: 31 dead and elderly people covered in excrement in a long-term care facility in Montreal
“What we need is a public coroner’s inquest where the public and family members can be informed, can attend and fully see the outcome of the process,” he said.
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Martin-Menard said a class action is already underway against the owners of the facility and the West Island Regional Health Authority (CIUSSS).
“It seems that there was serious negligence on the part of the residence, but also on the part of the CIUSSS, which was supposed to support the residence. Families must have access to this information, ”said Martin-Menard.
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.
McVey visited the residence on Sunday with an investigator from the Quebec Ministry of Health. She described the situation inside as “stable” and said that four doctors were on site as well as nurses examining the residents.
Social worker Mandy Novak, who spent her Easter Sunday volunteering at the residence, painted a grim picture of what it was like inside.
“There is a smell in there, a smell of the deceased,” she told Global News. “There are wounds that need to be treated and that have not been treated for a long time.” She said there were obvious signs of neglect.
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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.
Coronavirus outbreak: Legault says investigation into deaths at Herron long-term care home
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. .
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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.
Whitehead said last year that she had seen obvious signs of neglect from her father.
“I took him to the dentist last year, and his diaper had not been changed,” she said. “His feces oozed through his pants in the dental chair. “
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.
Coronavirus worldwide: April 12, 2020
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