Fam­i­lies sue af­ter two hospi­tal sui­cides

Hamil­ton fa­cil­i­ties did not pro­vide ad­e­quate su­per­vi­sion, state­ments of claim al­lege

Toronto Star - - GREATER TORONTO - NICOLE THOMP­SON THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

HAMIL­TON— Fam­ily mem­bers of two men who killed them­selves while al­legedly un­der su­per­vi­sion at hos­pi­tals in Hamil­ton are su­ing the fa­cil­i­ties’ par­ent or­ga­ni­za­tion for negligence, claim­ing the deaths could have been pre­vented.

A lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the fam­i­lies al­leged on Mon­day that staff at St. Joseph’s West 5th Cam­pus and St. Joseph’s Charl­ton Cam­pus knew that the men — Bran­don Tay­lor, 29, and Joel Verge, 42 — were at risk of try­ing to com­mit sui­cide and had been in­structed to su­per­vise them.

“Hos­pi­tals are sup­posed to be safe havens for peo­ple in cri­sis,” Michael Smi­tiuch told a news con­fer­ence. “Loved ones should be com­fort­able know­ing that when their loved one is un­der con­stant or di­rect su­per­vi­sion that they’re safe.”

Each fam­ily is su­ing St. Joseph’s Health Sys­tem for $8.5 mil­lion in dam­ages. In their state­ments of claim filed in court late last Fri­day, the fam­i­lies say the hos­pi­tals didn’t pro­vide ad­e­quate su­per­vi­sion to the men, who they al­lege were left alone for pe­ri­ods of time with items they used in their sui­cides.

“They pro­vided, frankly, the very means to al­low them to take their own lives,” Smi­tiuch al­leged.

“Had the hos­pi­tals sim­ply done the job they were sup­posed to do, they wouldn’t have died when they did or the way they did.”

David Hig­gins, pres­i­dent of the lo­cal di­vi­sion of St. Joseph’s Health Sys­tem, said the hospi­tal has al­ready im­ple­mented many rec­om­men­da­tions made in the ex­ter­nal re­view, and it is com­mit­ted to com­plet­ing the rest. “We are deeply sad­dened by the pain and loss suf­fered by the fam­i­lies of Joel Verge and Bran­don Tay­lor, Hig­gins said in a writ­ten state­ment. “Sui­cide is a tragedy and is pro­foundly dis­tress­ing for all of those who are touched by it.”

He de­clined to com­ment on the spe­cific al­le­ga­tions made in the law­suits.

Tay­lor’s fi­ancée, Jen­nifer Smyth, said noth­ing has been the same since her part­ner’s death. “I’ve had trou­ble sleep­ing and I wake up with night­mares,” she said.

Verge’s dad, Carl Verge, also said his son’s death has been very hard on the fam­ily. “It’s some­thing you know is never go­ing to go away,” he said.

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