Doc­u­ments re­veal pre­vi­ously un­known deaths at fa­cil­i­ties

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC - BY MICHAEL TUTTON

Newly re­leased coro­ner’s re­ports have re­vealed two pre­vi­ously un­re­ported deaths of Nova Sco­tia nurs­ing home res­i­dents in­jured when they were pushed down by res­i­dents with de­men­tia.

The cases, ob­tained through a free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quest to the med­i­cal ex­am­iner, bring the num­ber of such deaths since 2008 to 11 in the prov­ince.

“Those num­bers are con­cern­ing,”“said Eilon Caspi, a geron­tol­o­gist who has re­searched res­i­dent-on-res­i­dent nurs­ing home abuse for 25 years in Canada and the United States.

“Would we ac­cept a few deaths a year if we were talk­ing about tod­dlers in a child care set­ting?”

The two newly re­vealed deaths, both since Jan. 1 last year, are the lat­est ex­am­ples of such fa­tal­i­ties oc­cur­ring with­out the Health Depart­ment or po­lice no­ti­fy­ing the pub­lic.

A third death dur­ing that pe­riod did be­come pub­lic: the case of 79-year-old Gor­don Birchell was re­ported last year to The Cana­dian Press by a fam­ily friend and later con­firmed by the RCMP.

Last year, The Cana­dian Press pub­lished re­ports of eight deaths since 2008 and found five had never been re­vealed to the pub­lic ei­ther by po­lice or the prov­ince, and that one case wasn’t in­ves­ti­gated by the Health Depart­ment un­til the pub­lic rev­e­la­tions.

The lat­est cases oc­curred at Har­bour View Haven in Lunen­burg, while the other was at the Shan­nex Or­chard fa­cil­ity in Kentville, with no po­lice news re­leases in ei­ther case to in­form the pub­lic that homi­cide in­ves­ti­ga­tions were launched and later dropped.

The heav­ily edited re­ports say that in one case, “the dece­dent was found on the floor by nurs­ing home staff af­ter suf­fer­ing a fall ... an­other client was seen push­ing dece­dent caus­ing (name redacted) to fall.”

In an­other case, the per­son who died was “pushed by an­other res­i­dent ... fell on the floor strik­ing (name redacted).”

Dr. Matthew Bowes, the chief med­i­cal ex­am­iner, said in an email he’s re­viewed the cases and based on com­ments from in­ves­ti­ga­tors he be­lieves all of the cases are “de­men­tia re­lated,” adding he isn’t autho­rized to re­view the med­i­cal records of the peo­ple who pushed the res­i­dents.

Nei­ther home re­turned calls and emails re­quest­ing fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.

Caspi said the continuing flow of push­ing deaths shouldn’t be re­garded as nor­mal or un­avoid­able: “This is dev­as­tat­ing for fam­ily mem­bers.”

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