Friday, September 24, 2021

Québec Covid-19 inquest uncovers nursing home deaths from abuse and neglect.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Herron nursing home
A Québec inquest into Covid related nursing home deaths has uncovered some disturbing facts. A report by Tu Thanh Ha that was published in the Globe and Mail on September 14 reports on testimony concerning the Herron nursing home in the suburb of Dorval in Montréal. The report indicates that Covid was cited as the cause of death at the Herron nursing home to hide the fact that residents were dying of dehydration, malnurishment and neglect, also known as elder abuse.

An auxilary nurse (name is protected) reportedly stated in her testimony:
Starting March 13, 2020, a government directive banned visitors, including family caregivers, from entering nursing homes in Quebec. Many elderly residents with Alzheimer’s disease declined quickly when left by themselves. “I saw firsthand that they were dehydrated, in spite of my best efforts to keep them hydrated. I saw that they were malnourished,” the auxiliary nurse said.

In her testimony, and in a 55-page report that she submitted to the inquest, she said that many fatalities at Herron were misleadingly marked as suspected COVID-19 cases, when the deaths were a result of the chaotic handling of the crisis.

“I had the impression that they were blaming the virus because it would be easier to blame the virus than to acknowledge the hard truth that these people suffered from malnourishment and dehydration. I felt that it was a way to escape culpability,” she told the inquest.
The auxilary nurse explains that when staff at the home learned that one of the residents had Covid that many of them abandoned their job and did not return leaving the nursing home critically understaffed. The auxilary nurse stated:
When she came to work on March 29, most of the personnel were missing. The registered nurses left early. One said he had a fever. Another had been told by managers to go and get tested because she had cared for a patient who was found to have been infected.

The auxiliary nurse said she and two orderlies were left to care for a floor with 60 residents. While dispensing medications, she also had to help the orderlies. “I helped out feeding, I helped serve trays, I helped wash people. I was running around like a fool.”
Some of the deaths were clearly from neglect and elder abuse. The report states:
She found one of the first fatalities at Herron, Léon Barrette, whose body was already cold when she visited his room the morning of March 29. There were no physicians or registered nurses present, so a Herron administrator told her she had to handle the paperwork, which she had never done before.

The cause of death was indicated as possibly the new disease. “Everybody was ‘COVID-19 suspected,’ regardless of what symptoms they had,” she testified.

Mr. Barrette had been admitted March 27 and needed oxygen because of breathing problems. But there were no notes on his chart from between his admission and when the auxiliary found him dead. She testified that she saw no oxygen bottle in his room. His family members believe Herron’s staff had forgotten about him.
The report states that even those who had died were treated in an abusive manner:
She said she often “butted heads” with a CIUSSS nursing supervisor when she tried to tidy and clean the bodies of deceased residents. In one case, she said, the supervisor snapped at her for reporting that a dead resident had been left in vomit. “It takes five minutes to clean someone and show respect,” the auxiliary nurse said.

In another case, in a room shared by a married couple, the wife died and was left in her bed for a day. The husband had Alzheimer’s. Every few hours, he checked on his spouse and rediscovered that she had died. “It was extremely callous,” the auxiliary nurse said.
The testimony from the auxilary nurse at the Herron nursing home proves that some of the deaths were not caused by Covid but rather neglect and level of care at this nursing home could only be described has inhumane elder abuse.

The data appeared to indicate that significant abuse was occurring in our nursing homes which prompted me to ask last year - How many Canadian seniors with Covid-19 were killed?

We need to rethink nursing homes and move to community based care (Link).

For several years EPC has been advocating for changes to funding to enable home care. For many, home care is preferable because it enables people to stay in their homes and in their communities. People experience greater respect and dignity when they are cared for by people who know of them


Janice said...

Was anyone held accountable or charged for any of these deaths?
There is so much happening, it's difficult to keep up with all the stories.

This should have been an election issue for the Bloc Party and Prime Minister to address.

Maureen said...

I do hope this place will be closed down and those responsible charged with a crime!

sophie jensen said...

I live in Australia, but I would like to comment on this matter, anyway. I have experience in both the Nursing Home and Hospital Systems, and I have seen dehydration and malnourishment, either forced or allowed through neglect, in each situation. The combined effect of these two issues sometimes (but of course not always) leads to the assumption/conclusion that the Patient is so sick that they are 'not expected to survive'. This in turn may sometimes lead to the employment of palliative care treatments, which in effect means the use of drugs to euthanase them. In my view, this is euthanasia by trickery, in some respects at least. Neglect leads to false conclusions, which are then adopted as a convenience, and other methods put into effect. I have heard, many times, comments about people which suggest that they are a burden which needs to be lessened. But it is actually like beating your head against a brick wall to get anybody 'in power' to listen. Apparently they have not heard the expression 'what goes around, comes around'.