Tag Archives: hears

Off-duty firefighter ‘was desperate’ for police to let her aid George Floyd, court hears

A Minneapolis firefighter who saw George Floyd being pinned to the ground by police officers while she was off duty testified at the Derek Chauvin murder trial Tuesday that she felt “totally distressed” that she was prevented from providing the 46-year-old Black man medical aid.

Genevieve Hansen was one of a series of bystanders who testified in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis on the second day of the trial about what they witnessed on May 25, 2020, as police pinned Floyd to the ground after they detained him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store.

That included the emotional testimony of Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she took the viral video of Floyd’s arrest that sparked protests over police brutality and racial injustice around the world. 

Chauvin, 45, who is white, faces two murder charges — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — in the death of Floyd. Chauvin, who was fired from the police force after Floyd’s death, is also charged with the lesser offence of second-degree manslaughter.

The prosecution claims Chauvin crushed his knee into Floyd’s neck, an application of unreasonable force that it says led to his death later in hospital. But Chauvin’s defence argues the 19-year veteran police officer did exactly as he had been trained to do and that Floyd’s death was the result of a combination of underlying medical conditions and drugs in his system. 

Hansen, who testified in her dress uniform and said she had emergency medical technician training, had been out for a walk when she came across the officers and Floyd.

She said she observed that Floyd needed medical attention and was in an “altered level of consciousness.”

This image from a police body camera shows people gathering as Chauvin presses his knee on Floyd’s neck outside the Cup Foods convenience story in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Floyd later died in hospital. (Minneapolis Police Department/The Associated Press)

Would have checked for pulse

She told the court had she been allowed to assist, she would have requested additional help and had someone fetch a defibrillator from the nearby gas station.

She said she would have checked Floyd’s airway for any obstructions, checked for a pulse, and, if no pulse was found, would have started compressions.

But she said, the officers didn’t allow her to assist.

She was asked by prosecutor Matthew Frank how that made her feel.

“Totally distressed,” she said. 

“Were you frustrated?” Frank asked.

“Yes,” she said, as she broke into tears.

Frank later asked her to explain why she felt helpless.

“Because there was a man being killed, and had I had access to a call similar to that, I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities, and this human was denied that right,” she told the court.

She said she pleaded with police and “was desperate” for them to let her help. 

WATCH | Judge Peter Cahill rebukes witness over testimony:

Judge Peter Cahill admonished witness Genevieve Hansen for her responses to defence counsel. 0:50

When ambulance arrived and took Floyd, she called 911. The recording of that call was played in court Tuesday. In it, Hansen tells the dispatcher that she had just watched police officers not take a pulse or do anything to save a man.

But during cross-examination, she grew testy with Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson. When asked about the bystanders expressing their anger at police, she told Nelson: “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting.”

“I’m going to just ask you to answer my questions as I ask them to you,” Nelson said.

Judge rebukes witness

Her responses to Nelson earned her a stern rebuke from Judge Peter Cahill, who, after the jury had been cleared for the day, warned her that she should not argue with the court or counsel and that they have the right to ask questions.

“I was finishing my answer,” Hansen said.

“I will determine when your answer is done,” Cahill said.

Earlier in the day, court also heard from Frazier, the teenager who shot the viral video, who testified that she had stayed up at night apologizing for not doing more to help him.

Frazier, acknowledging that that video has changed her life, was tearful at times and testified that any of her Black friends or family members could have been in Floyd’s position that day.

She said she has stayed up at night “apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting, not saving his life.”

Then she added: “But it’s not what I should have done. It’s what he should have done,” in what appeared to be a reference to Chauvin.

Frazier told the court she had been walking to a corner store with her younger cousin on May 25, 2020, when she encountered police pinning Floyd to the ground.

“It wasn’t right. He was suffering. He was in pain,” she said.

WATCH | Teen who shot video of Floyd says she wishes she could have saved him

Darnella Frazier, the teenagers who shot the viral video of George Floyd, says she stays up at night apologizing for not doing more to help him. 1:07

She said she sent her cousin into the store because she didn’t want her to see “a man terrified, scared, begging for his life.”

Frazier said she took out her phone and began recording. She later posted the video on social media, where it went viral around the globe.

As Frazier recorded, she said she heard Floyd say that he “can’t breathe,” for the officer to “please get off of me,” and that he cried for his mom.

“He was in pain. It seemed like he knew it was over for him. He was terrified. He was suffering. This was a cry for help,” she said. 

As the crowd of bystanders became more hostile toward police, Frazier said that Chauvin applied more pressure with his knee to Floyd. 

She said Chauvin’s response to the crowd was a “cold look, heartless.

“He didn’t care. It seemed as if he didn’t care what we were saying.”

Witness Donald Williams says he called 911 after watching Chauvin shove his knee into Floyd’s neck because he believed he had witnessed a murder. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

‘I believe I witnessed a murder’

Court also heard from Donald Williams, another bystander and witness who continued his testimony from the first day of the trial.

Court heard a 911 recording of Williams, who testified he made the call because at the time, “I believe I witnessed a murder.”

“I felt the need to call the police on the police,” he said.

Williams can be heard on the call with a dispatcher, saying that Chauvin “just pretty much killed this guy who wasn’t resisting arrest.”

Defence attorney Eric Nelson, left, and Chauvin are seen in court on the second day of the murder trial into Floyd’s death. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

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Andrew Cuomo Says He Still Hears His Late Father’s Advice During This Difficult Time in New York

Andrew Cuomo Says He Still Hears His Late Father’s Advice During This Difficult Time in New York | Entertainment Tonight

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UN Security Council hears of ‘unfolding humanitarian catastrophe’ in Syria’s Idlib province

Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing a Russian-backed Syrian offensive are being squeezed into ever smaller areas near Turkey’s border “under horrendous conditions” in freezing temperatures that are killing babies and young children, the UN humanitarian chief said Wednesday.

Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council that “the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe” in northwest Idlib province, which is the last major rebel stronghold, has “overwhelmed” efforts to provide aid.

He said nearly 900,000 people have been displaced since Dec. 1, when the government offensive began — more than 500,000 of them children.

“Many are on foot or on the backs of trucks in below-freezing temperatures, in the rain and snow,” Lowcock said. “They are moving into increasingly crowded areas they think will be safer. But in Idlib, nowhere is safe.”

Lowock, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said almost 50,000 people have taken shelter under trees and in open spaces.

“I am getting daily reports of babies and other young children dying in the cold,” he said.

‘Tragic suffering’

UN special envoy Geir Pedersen echoed Secretary-General António Guterres’s expression of alarm on Tuesday at the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation “and the tragic suffering of civilians.”

“Hostilities are now approaching densely populated areas such as Idlib city and Bab al-Hawa border crossing, which has among the highest concentration of displaced civilians in northwest Syria and also serves as a humanitarian lifeline,” he said.

This combination of satellite images provided by Maxar Technologies shows an area near Kafaldin in northern Syria’s Idlib province near the Turkish border on Feb. 5, top, and the same area with a large number of refugee tents for internally displaced people on Feb. 16, bottom. The difference illustrates the rapid expansion of refugees as hundreds of thousands of civilians in the area scramble to escape an offensive by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces. (Maxar Technologies via The Associated Press)

Pedersen warned: “The potential for further mass displacement and even more catastrophic human suffering is apparent, as an increasing number of people are hemmed into an ever-shrinking space.”

He said Russia and Turkey, as sponsors of a ceasefire in Idlib, “can and must play a key role in finding a way to de-escalate the situation now,” though meetings between delegations of the two countries in Ankara, Munich and Moscow in recent days and contacts between the two presidents have not produced results.

“To the contrary, public statements from different quarters, Syrian and international, suggest an imminent danger of further escalation,” Pedersen said in a video briefing from Geneva.

‘Spare no effort’

The United States, United Kingdom, Germany and others stressed that three-way talks with Syria supporters Russia and Iran and opposition backer Turkey, which led to a de-escalation zone in Idlib, aren’t working.

German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen said that since the so-called Astana formula isn’t working, it’s now time for the UN to step in and “it’s time also for the secretary-general also to step up to the plate.”

“We have an immense responsibility that we face here as the United Nations, as the Security Council, to stop what is happening,” he said. “We must spare no effort.”

Heusgen also urged Russia to stop supporting Syria.

“If you tell the Syrians that there is no longer military support to the Syrian regime, they will have to stop the onslaught on their own population,” he said.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia responded: “We will not stop supporting the legitimate government of Syria, which is conducting a legitimate fight against international terrorism.”

He defended the Astana process as playing “the key role,” saying that “there’s no other mechanism for a political dialogue.”

Nebenzia supported Pedersen’s efforts to get agreement from Syria’s government and opposition on an agenda so a constitutional committee can start discussing a new charter for the country, which is seen by many as a first step toward elections and formation of a new government.

“What needs to stop is protection of fighters, insurgents,” he said.

Britain’s ambassador, Karen Pierce, said Russia and Syria need to stop “indiscriminate and inhumane attacks” in the northwest that are killing and injuring innocent civilians.

During closed consultations after the open meeting, French Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere said he proposed that the Security Council issue a statement on the escalating situation, but Russia blocked it.

According to council diplomats, the proposed statement called for a cessation of hostilities in northwestern Syria, but Russia insisted on an additional line that would have allowed the fight against “terrorists” to continue. That was unacceptable to the vast majority of council members, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the consultations were private.

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‘My word against his’: 28 women sexually assaulted by Calgary doctor, court hears during guilty plea

From MS to seizures to chronic migraines, the women who were referred to Calgary neurologist Dr. Keith Hoyte faced a host of medical conditions and were hopeful he could help. Instead he sexually assaulted dozens of patients over a 30-year period.

On Monday, the day his three-week trial was set to begin, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Jim Eamon accepted Hoyte’s plea of guilty to 28 counts of sexual assault.

The 71-year-old admitted to groping and fondling female patients during exams from 1983 to 2013. It took many of the women years, even decades, to report Hoyte to police.

In most cases, it wasn’t until they knew there were others who shared a similar story that the women felt comfortable coming forward.

“I didn’t have the confidence to say,” one victim told police about her delay in reporting. “I knew it was my word against his word.”

The victims were between the ages of 17 and 46 at the time of the assaults. A publication ban protects their identities.

According to an agreed statement of facts, after one woman came forward to police in 2018, an initial investigation revealed two others had reported the doctor over the years for sexual assault beginning decades earlier.

Following news reports that the doctor was facing three sexual assault charges, 25 more woman contacted police with similar stories of sexual assault.

Hoyte, shown at an earlier time, admitted to groping and fondling female patients during exams from 1983 to 2013. (University of Calgary)

In each case, the women were referred to Hoyte for various issues like chronic migraines and seizures.

Once a patient was in an exam room, Hoyte would have the woman put on a gown after stripping down.

Then he would untie and lower the gown before fondling his victim’s breasts. The victims said they felt mortified, vulnerable and confused as the doctor groped and grabbed at their breasts, pinching and stroking their nipples. 

“There is no legitimate clinical explanation for Dr. Hoyte’s examination of the patients,” reads the agreed statement of facts prepared by prosecutor Rosalind Greenwood and defence lawyer Alain Hepner.

A date for a sentencing hearing will be set later this month. Hoyte is almost certainly facing a federal sentence which means he would spend more than two years behind bars.

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‘No evidence’ Kaillie Humphries suffered harassment from coach, Calgary judge hears

The investigation into Kaillie Humphries’ harassment complaint against her former coach and Bobsleigh Canada has been completed, with a finding that her allegations have not been substantiated, a Calgary judge heard in court Monday.

Humphries, 34, is suing Bobsleigh Canada for $ 45 million for blocking her release from the team and breaching their contract relating to athlete and coach code of conduct.

Lawyers for the athlete and Bobsleigh Canada appeared in a Calgary courtroom Monday morning for an injunction hearing.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist has asked the judge to order her release from this country’s team, which would allow her to compete for the United States. 

That decision will be made Tuesday at 9 a.m. MT by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Charlene Anderson.

‘They don’t want her’

Bobsleigh Canada lawyer Arif Chowdhury argued Humphries has received 15 years’ worth of mostly publicly funded training designed “to create international and Olympic champions.”

Chowdhury said a written release from Bobsleigh Canada is required, to prevent athletes from taking advantage of one country’s training program and competing for another. 

The governing body also suggested Humphries has not exhausted internal remedies and asked Anderson for a stay of proceedings, arguing the court doesn’t have the jurisdiction to hear this case. Chowdhury said Humphries must take her concerns to the Sports Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) first.

But Jeffrey Rath, Humphries’ lawyer, says because her contract expired in June, those rules don’t apply. 

Competing for the U.S. is Humphries’ only option, Rath argued. 

“Bobsleigh Canada has made it clear they don’t want her to compete for them,” Rath told the judge.

Humphries ‘driven off’ team: lawyer

The two-time Olympic gold medallist is one of Canada’s most decorated athletes.

A year ago, Humphries filed a harassment complaint with Bobsleigh Canada, alleging verbal and mental abuse from her former coach, Todd Hays, in the 2017-18 season. She now lives in the United States and wants to compete for that country.

According to her lawyer, Humphries was essentially “driven off” the Canadian bobsled team after filing the complaint. 

If Humphries is to compete for the United State Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (USBSF) in the 2019-20 season, she needs the release letter from Bobsleigh Canada and an acceptance letter from USBSF by Sept. 30. 

Punitive behaviours alleged

By allowing Hays’s abusive behaviour, the suit alleges he and Bobsleigh Canada were in breach of their contracts. 

Humphries has been waiting for more than a year for the national sport organization to complete its internal investigation.

In her statement of claim, Humphries says that after filing the complaint, Hays took actions to ensure she would not compete with Bobsleigh Canada. 

Humphries was not invited to training camps and was told that if she tried to compete for Canada, she’d be given an older sled that would not have been competitive or safe, according to the claim.

The document also claims other athletes were threatened with blacklisting if they worked with Humphries.

Humphries ‘has suffered and continues to suffer monetary damages in the form of loss of reputation, sponsorships, revenue opportunities including branding opportunities and economic losses,” reads the statement of claim.

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Alberta couple treated dying toddler with herbs and alternative therapies, retrial hears

Herbal remedies, alternative therapies and a priesthood blessing: these are some of the treatments used by Collet and David Stephan in the treatment of their 19-month old son who had meningitis, a judge heard Monday, as the couple’s second trial on the same charges got underway.

The Stephans, who now have four children, are on trial in Lethbridge, Alta., accused of criminally failing their son Ezekiel who died in 2012.

On Monday afternoon, the judge heard Collet suspected her son had meningitis and was told to take him to an emergency room days before his condition worsened to the point that the toddler stopped breathing.

A jury convicted the Stephans in April 2016 in Court of Queen’s Bench of failing to provide the necessaries of life. The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the conviction, but the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the original trial judge erred in his instructions to the jury.

Although unusual in everyday parlance, the word “necessaries” — not “necessities” — is the term the legal system uses.

“I know that the two of you have been through a very difficult time,” said Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Terry Clackson as the trial got underway Monday morning. “I know that, ultimately, the fact that you’re on trial is a result of a traumatic event to your family.”

As he walked into court, David Stephan told reporters he and his wife were feeling nervous, stressed and unprepared. 

“Yesterday was a full day of preparation and trying to make arrangements for the upcoming month, month and a half here,” said Stephan. “So, yeah, it was a little bit stressful.”

David Stephan arrives at the Lethbridge courthouse on Monday for the second trial he and his wife have had related to the death of Ezekiel, who died of meningitis in 2012. (Mark Matulis/CBC)

In her opening statement, prosecutor Britta Kristensen said although Ezekiel might have been ill earlier, the Crown is not alleging any wrongdoing until the three-day period from March 10 to 13, 2012.

On March 10, Collet called Lexie Vataman, who was the receptionist for the naturopathic doctor the Stephans used in Lethbridge. Vataman testified Colett asked for a recommendation “for her little one’s immune system.”

“She said he might have a type of meningitis,” said Vataman. “I said ‘I think you should go to a medical doctor.'”

Vataman says she then asked Dr. Tracey Tannis what to do. 

“She was a little alarmed and said maybe they should have him checked out in emergency,” said Vataman. Days later, on March 13, the receptionist testified Collet came in to pick up echinacea, an herbal remedy, for the child.

Toddler ‘breathing peacefully’

The Crown also called Terrie Shaw as a witness. Shaw is a midwife and nurse who, in 2012, knew the Stephans and was helping Collet prepare for a home birth.

On March 12, 2012, Shaw said she received a call from Collet, telling her that Ezekiel had fallen asleep in the bath and was sick with a cough.

When she arrived at the home, Shaw said Ezekiel was sleeping but testified she noticed no outward signs of illness. 

“He looked like he was calm and comfortable and sleeping peacefully,” Shaw said under cross-examination. She even checked the toddler with her stethoscope and noted he was “breathing peacefully, easily.”

Shaw said she and Collet searched meningitis on the family’s laptop and she advised the mother to seek a medical opinion given the concern for the boy.

Mother described as ‘competent, loving’

Then the two discussed treating Ezekiel with herbal remedies, alternative therapies and even having a priesthood blessing performed.

Shaw said she and the Stephans were friends, attending each others’ family functions and described Collet as a “competent, loving, responsive and sensitive mother to her children.”

The next day, March 13, the Stephans took Ezekiel to Lethbridge so they could buy remedies but, according to Kristensen, the toddler’s body was so stiff at that point that the couple was unable to get him into his car seat and instead had him lie on a mattress in the back of their car. 

By the following night, Collet called Shaw again, this time to say Ezekiel had stopped breathing and the family was en route to meet paramedics who would take the boy to the Cardston hospital. 

Kristensen told the judge that by the time paramedics got involved, Ezekiel had no pulse and no neurological activity.

“He was lifeless at the time,” said the prosecutor who said by the time Ezekiel saw medical professionals, his illness had progressed too far.

After being airlifted to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, Ezekiel died.

Stephans wanted $ 4M

The country’s top court found that given the polarizing evidence from Crown and defence medical experts, and an “overabundance of medical evidence,” the initial trial judge’s instructions on how to apply the law to deliberations did not supply jurors with the tools they needed to properly decide the case.

After the Supreme Court victory, the couple fired their lawyers, saying they could not afford further legal fees.

Last week, the Stephans, who are representing themselves, tried to delay their trial until November, arguing Collet would be able to have a defence lawyer act for her if she was given extra time. The judge hearing that application refused to postpone the trial. 

The Stephans have had several opportunities to obtain legal representation. 

At the outset of the latest trial, Clackson spent some time explaining the trial process to the accused, who plan to represent themselves. Two lawyers will be stepping in to help from time to time.

The lawyers are Shawn Buckley, who represented the couple at their first trial, and Jason Demers, a lawyer who originally offered to act for Collet if the trial could be delayed until November.

In December, the couple tried to have the trial delayed until the provincial government could reimburse them $ 1 million for what they claimed they had already spent on lawyers. They also asked that an additional $ 3 million be placed in trust for defence fees at their upcoming trial. That application was also denied.

Critical of system

David Stephan has been publicly critical of the justice system, in general, and judges, their jury and the media, in particular.

He also became a regular at the recent trial for Calgary couple Jennifer and Jeromie Clark, who were convicted of failing to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing the death of their toddler son from malnourishment and a staph infection.

The Clarks had refused to take their son to a doctor until it was too late.

The first trial became a battle of experts, with prosecutors and defence lawyers each calling their own medical witnesses. 

The trial is set to last four weeks. 

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Staffing issues at long-term care homes known to province for years, Wettlaufer inquiry hears

Like clockwork, Ontario receives a new report detailing the staffing shortages at long-term care homes every few years. Still, the problem remains, the inquiry into long-term care heard Wednesday.

In cross-examination of Karin Fairchild, who works in compliance for the Hamilton Service Area Office and advised the province on creating the Long-Term Care Homes Act, counsel for the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) cited multiple reports dating back to 2001 that all came to similar conclusions about a lack of nursing power at long-term care homes.

These include:

  • A 2001 report on long-term care by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which found that residents at Ontario facilities have higher needs and receive less nursing care than patients in other provinces.
  • A 2004 report prepared for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, which found that nurses don't view long-term care as an appealing career path, and found pay inequities between long-term care and hospital nursing jobs.
  • A 2006 coroner's inquest into deaths at the Casa Verde Health Centre in west Toronto, which recommended increasing staff levels in long-term care homes and ensuring pay equity between long-term care homes and hospital settings.
  • A 2008 report by Ontario healthcare expert Shirlee Sharkey, which recommended that residents in long-term care receive four hours of total care every day, and one hour by a registered nurse.

Notably, the 2004 ministry report cited a nursing home that had just one registered nurse, one registered practical nurse and four aides tasked with the care of 160 people overnight. 

That situation bore a similarity to the staffing mix at Caressant Care in Woodstock, Ont., where Elizabeth Wettlaufer was often the only registered nurse on staff during night shifts, and where she killed seven of her eight victims.

"All of these reports identify staffing as an issue, and I'm just wondering what the hesitation is in either legislating the one hour of care or requiring a home to have more than one registered nurse?" counsel for the ONA asked.

"I'm not the person to make those decisions. I would be happy for someone to make decisions at a higher level to fund those recommendations, but I don't have control over that," said Fairchild. 

Compliance branch also under-resourced

Understaffing isn't just a problem for nurses, the inquiry heard Wednesday.

The offices charged with inspecting Ontario's long-term care homes do not have the manpower to conduct inspections "in a timely manner," Fairchild said Wednesday.

Fairchild said care homes, nurses and the public have a number of ways to report problems at long-term care homes, and that the overall number of complaints continues to grow. But her team doesn't have enough people to respond, Fairchild said at the Elgin County courthouse in St. Thomas.

"Given the resources that I have now, I can't keep up. I'm lucky in that I have a very long-term set of staff, so it's not that they're not afraid of the work —​ it's just that there's too much of it."

The resourcing issues date back to the enactment of the Long-Term Care Homes Act in 2010, said Fairchild, who played a role in drafting the legislation.

Even so, she told the inquiry the province's inspection system has done a proactive job of catching problems and effecting change. Fairchild said a "large majority" of homes do report their problems to the province. 

"Is it able to detect someone who wilfully hides their crime? Obviously not, because we didn't know about it until [Elizabeth Wettlaufer] confessed," Fairchild said. 

"But I do think that for the residents in other long-term care homes where we have identified systemic problems, we've ceased admissions, we've required mandatory management orders, we've made a difference in the quality of care for those residents through our actions."

Wettlaufer worked at three Ontario nursing homes before she confessed to killing eight patients and trying to kill or harm six others between 2007 and 2016.

Following Fairchild's testimony, the inquiry was to hear testimony from officials with the South-West Local Health Integration Network, which oversees home care in southwestern Ontario. After leaving the Meadow Park nursing home in London, Wettlaufer worked for a temp agency and tried to kill others with insulin overdoses.

Wettlaufer, 51, was sentenced in June 2017 to eight concurrent life terms in prison. 

The inquiry began in June and runs until September.

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Health Ministry inspections couldn't have stopped serial killer, Wettlaufer inquiry hears

An Ontario Health Ministry inspector who makes sure nursing homes are safe for residents doesn't think the provincial inspection process could have prevented the "evil" that serial killer Elizabeth Wettlaufer brought into long-term care homes, an inquiry heard Wednesday. 

It could have happened anywhere, in any home,” Rhonda Kukoly testified at the long-term care inquiry at the Elgin County courthouse in St. Thomas. 

"I can't think of anything that's going to be able to detect if someone is so evil and devious to intentionally harm residents — and conceal their actions to that degree."

Kukoly spent five months at Caressant Care in Woodstock after Wettlaufer confessed to killing seven residents by injecting them with insulin while working at the home from 2007 to 2014. 

Wettlaufer was not caught and went on to kill another resident at her next job, at Meadow Park nursing home in London. She also harmed others at both homes and while working as a temp agency nurse in southwestern Ontario. In June 2017, Wettlaufer was sentenced to eight concurrent life terms in prison with no parole possibility for 25 years.

The inquiry has heard that it’s unlikely Wettlaufer would have been stopped had it not been for her own confession to a psychiatrist in 2016. 

But Kukoly said Wettlaufer's crimes have shaken the long-term care industry to its core. 

"That trust in long-term care and nursing has been absolutely battered. I am a nurse and I always wanted to be, whether I'm in a home as an inspector or a nurse, I bring the same level of care and reasonability. The impact on this sector will be vast." 

Impact 'unimaginable'

Kukoly said she lies awake at night thinking of the pain the family members of Wettlaufer's victims must be going through. 

"I close my eyes and I think about it. It's unimaginable."

Earlier Wednesday, Kukoly detailed going into Caressant Care just 24 hours after staff learned former co-worker Wettlaufer had confessed to serial murder. 

She also went through the five months of intense scruitny placed on Caressant Care by provincial Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care inspectors, leading to a stop-admission order and the home being ordered to hire an outside company to manage it. That mandatory management order remains in place. 

On Thursday Kukoly is expected to be cross-examined by lawyers representing different groups with standing at the inquiry. 

The inquiry into the safety and security of residents in long-term care is expected to last until September

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Nursing home exec called PR firm, not Health Ministry, about Wettlaufer confession, inquiry hears

The president of a Woodstock nursing home called the company's lawyer and a public relations firm, not the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, when he learned then nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer had confessed to killing seven residents, a public inquiry heard Tuesday morning. 

“I asked him specifically why he didn’t report to the ministry. He said he didn’t know what to do,” Karen Simpson, the former director of long-term care home inspections at the ministry, testified at the Elgin County courthouse in St. Thomas. 

"He said that he had received this information — it was the most shocking information that he had ever received and he didn't know how to move forward."  

That conversation happened two days after Jim Lavelle, president of Caressant Care Nursing and Retirement Homes, found out from police that Wettlaufer had confessed to the killings.

Two days later, he called the Ontario Long Term Care Association, an umbrella group for nursing homes. 

"That was something that they should have reported right away, which is why I raised it with him," Simpson said.

She learned of Wettlaufer's confession after getting an email from the chief executive director of the association. 

“You may want to sit down for this …” the email begins, before outlining Wettlaufer’s confession. 

An email sent by the head of the Ontario Long Term Care Association to other senior staff and forwarded minutes later to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care. (Supplied)

Wettlaufer checked herself into a psychiatric hospital, and told doctors she had killed eight people and tried to harm six others while working in Ontario nursing homes and home care from 2007 to 2016. 

Ontario government inspectors were dispatched to the three nursing homes where Wettlaufer worked immediately after the ministry was told of the killings, Simpson told the inquiry on Monday. 

'Didn't understand obligations'

Lavelle's failure to report Wettlaufer's actions was the last of a large number of reports that Caressant Care staff and administrators should have given to the ministry but didn't. 

When Health Ministry inspectors reviewed files spanning Wettlaufer's career, after her crimes became public, they found 41 medication errors that should have been reported to the ministry. Such reports can trigger inspections that could lead to orders to comply with legislation, Simpson said. 

In October 2007, four months after Wettlaufer began working at the Woodstock home, one resident, Clotilde Adriano, 87, was rushed to hospital after an insulin overdose.

That medication error, made by Wettlaufer, should have been reported to the ministry but wasn't.

Wettlaufer was eventually charged with aggravated assault.

3 homes under scrutiny

Three homes where Wettlaufer worked and killed or harmed patients were the focus of provincial probes after she confessed, the inquiry heard Monday: 

  • Meadow Park in London.
  • Caressant Care in Woodstock. 
  • Telfer Place in Paris. 

Investigations at the homes began in October 2016, the same month Wettlaufer confessed. 

Caressant Care, where Wettlaufer worked for seven years and killed seven of her eight victims, was told to stop admitting residents while it dealt with problems identified in those inspections, Simpson testified. 

The investigations found many unreported incidents that should have been reported. 

The reports were supposed to be made under rules in the Long Term Care Homes Act. The legislation, which came into force in 2010, put strict reporting obligations on facilities such as Caressant Care and gave provincial inspectors more powers. 

But the new system also relied heavily on self-reporting of problems that would trigger inspections. 

Eventually, Caressant Care was ordered to hire an outside company to help it manage the home. That order remains in place today. 

Simpson testified there are many safeguards to protect residents, and that Wettlaufer's crimes were not detected by anyone, from residents to staff to inspectors. 

"This has had such an effect on so many people," she said. "If there are improvements [to inspections] we can make, we will absolutely look at that. We need to hear that." 

Simpson will be cross-examined on Tuesday. Later this week, the inquiry will hear from investigators who went into the nursing homes after Wettlaufer's confession. 

On June 26, 2017, Wettlaufer was sentenced to eight concurrent life terms in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

The inquiry into the safety and security of residents in long-term care is expected to last until September. 

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ER doc flagged Wettlaufer victim death as possible medication error, inquiry hears

An emergency room doctor thought a coroner should investigate an elderly woman's death because she thought it was likely caused by a medication error, the Wettlaufer inquiry heard Wednesday.

Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke said she was concerned when Maureen Pickering, 79, was admitted to Woodstock General Hospital with severe hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, in March 2014.   

When she discharged Pickering, she told a nurse at the Caressant Care nursing home in Woodstock, Ont., where the elderly woman lived, that when the woman died, a coroner should be called to investigate. 

Pickering was one of eight people Wettlaufer killed between 2007 and 2016, when she confessed to murdering nursing home patients with insulin overdoses after checking herself into a psychiatric facility. She was convicted of murdering eight of her patients and attempting to murder another six.

Pickering died five days after being released from hospital, but Uranantke's red flag about her condition was ignored by Dr. William George, the local coroner who testified Wednesday. He said he didn't think the death was suspicious.

The public inquiry into the safety and security of residents in the long-term care homes system is being held at the Elgin County courthouse in St. Thomas. When the inquiry was called, officials said they hoped to determine how Wettlaufer was able to get away with her crimes without detection. 

'Unresponsive and in poor condition'

Urbantke testified Thursday that when Pickering left Caressant Care in an ambulance, her blood sugar level was 0.4. A regular level is between four and six. The blood sugar was corrected with several injections of liquid glucose.

Urbantke said she didn't consider that the a nurse might be intentionally injecting patients with massive amounts of insulin to kill or harm them. 

"I believe I was thinking more along the lines of a medication error," Urbantke told the inquiry. 

When she arrived at the hospital, Pickering was in bad shape. 

"She remained unresponsive and was in poor condition so we turned to comfort measures, or a palliative care approach," Urbantke testified. 

When Pickering was transferred back to palliative care at Carressant Care after several hours in the emergency room, Urbantke called the nursing home. 

It was nurse Wettlaufer who took the call, noting that Urbantke told her, "It might be a good idea to call the coroner on this one."

When Pickering died five days later, another nurse, Karen Routledge, called the provincial dispatch line for coroners because of Urbantke's suggestion. Urbantke couldn't take the case because she had treated Pickering in hospital, so it was transferred to George. 

No notes, no memory

On Wednesday, George testified he declined to investigate a death or do an autopsy because the woman was elderly and medical records indicated she had had a stroke. 

He considered a medication error as the cause of the low blood sugar, but thought it was a “solitary event” that had happened five days prior to the woman’s death. He concluded Pickering’s death was “foreseeable and expected.” 

Dr. William George, a local coroner, looked into the deaths of two of Elizabeth Wettlaufer's victims in Woodstock, Ont. He testified he did not think he made any mistakes.

On Thursday, Urbantke testified the severely low blood sugar would not have swayed her away from investigating the death. 

But George has no memory of actually speaking to Urbantke or Routledge about Pickering. Despite regulations that require him to keep his notes about deaths, whether he investigated them or not, for 10 years, George threw his out after weeks. 

Urbantke, a coroner since 2004, testified she takes handwritten notes when she's called about a death and has kept all of her notes since she became a coroner. 

George was also called about the death of James Silcox, 84, at Caressant Care in 2007. Silcox was Wettlaufer's first murder victim. 

Even though Wettlaufer herself had flagged the death as "sudden and unexpected," a designation that should trigger a coroner's investigation, George declined to investigate or do an autopsy. Instead, he ruled Silcox died as a result of a fall. 

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