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Opposition calls for transparency about N.B. emergency room death – New Brunswick

New Brunswick’s official Opposition is calling for greater transparency from the regional health authority that oversees the Edmundston Regional Hospital where a patient died in the emergency room under “unforeseen and exceptional circumstances.”

Liberal health critic Jean-Claude D’Amours said he didn’t know much about the incident that took place on July 24, other than what was published by Vitalité Health Network.

“Honestly, in the community we heard a little bit here and there,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.

D’Amours is also the MLA for Edmundston-Madawaska Centre, where the hospital is located.

He said he is aware there is an internal investigation, but it will be critical for the francophone health authority to be transparent about what led to the death of an admitted patient.

“I think that is something that is very important, that, as soon as possible that Vitalité to provide an update and make sure everybody understands based on the situation that happened last Sunday,” D’Amours said.

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Some media reports have indicated the death was a suicide.

Read more:

Another ER death under investigation in New Brunswick, called a ‘tragic event’

Several questions asked over the past 48 hours by Global News, on the cause of death, staffing levels on the night of the death, mental health protocols for that hospital, and the hours of operation for psychiatry services, have all gone under answered by the health authority.

That leaves many questions, including for D’Amours, who two weeks ago was being interviewed about the death of a patient in the waiting room of the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital.

“Again, is it because some services are not offered certain days or certain services are not offered certain times of the day and there (are) many questions that we will need answered from Vitalité and I understand they are doing their investigation but right now we need to have more details and understand what happened and what (was) missing during that intervention,” he said.

Vitalité CEO and president Dr. France Desrosiers did post a video on Monday, which was a repetition of the statement published to the organization’s website, except in French.

The province’s new health minister has also been unable to provide any insight into the death.

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“I cannot share those details at this point in time,” Bruce Fitch said on Monday. “There is an investigation going on and it will, again, conclude itself and we’ll make decisions or actions from the RHA at that point in time.”

The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate declined to comment on this case, saying it would be inappropriate to do so.

However, that office did make several recommendations on mental health services in hospitals in the wake of 16-year-old Lexi Daken’s death.

Read more:

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Daken went to the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital on Feb. 19, 2021 seeking mental health services but was turned away even after telling physicians she didn’t think she could keep herself safe at home.

She died by suicide on Feb. 24.

The report, published by then-advocate Norm Bosse, was an indictment of the health-care system and its lack of attention to mental health services.

“Even the ER psychiatric nurses we interviewed had not received specialized training; they gained their knowledge through experience working on the inpatient psychiatric ward,” the report said.

“We were informed that some psychiatrists working on-call are reluctant to come in after midnight unless there is a serious mental health crisis situation. It was suggested that this may factor into the ER physician’s willingness to consult them through the night. The fact that the ER physician left the decision up to Lexi of whether to consult the on-call psychiatrist is in our view unjustifiable.”

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The report also included the following findings:

  • A lack of standardized suicide risk assessment practices in emergency rooms.
  • A chronic shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists.
  • An over-reliance on crisis care and a lack of prevention services in community settings.

In May 2021, then-health minister Dorothy Shephard announced 21 recommendations gathered by the province’s two health authorities would be implemented by the end of the fiscal year.

While some programs have been implemented, like one-at-a-time therapy, which is part of the province’s mental health action plan, it remains unknown what, if any, of the advocate’s recommendations have been implemented.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

For a directory of support services in your area, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

Learn more about how to help someone in crisis on the government of Canada’s website.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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