MONTREAL — Health officials in western Montreal said Tuesday they will ask the coroner to investigate the death of an 86-year-old woman reportedly found lifeless on the floor of a hospital emergency room in February.
Candida Macarine, 86, was admitted to Lakeshore General Hospital on Feb. 26 because of respiratory distress, and her family says she died several hours later from cardiac arrest.
The decision by the health agency to inform the coroner came one day after Macarine's family said they hadn't been able to obtain answers following a CBC report about an elderly woman found dead in the hospital's emergency room on Feb. 27. The info in the CBC report matched the timing of Macarine's death.
Macarine's family only learned of those circumstances on the eve of her funeral. They called on Monday for a coroner to investigate the death after health authorities refused to confirm the family's suspicion that Macarine was the patient in the news report.
The health authority admitted Tuesday it hadn't properly communicated with the Macarine family and said the head of the agency has written to the family to propose a meeting and to offer support.
"Although the investigation is still ongoing, the CIUSSS (health authority) is already able to say that its communications with the family were incomplete, especially at the time of the announcement of the death," the agency wrote in a statement.
"The CIUSSS team is obviously sorry for the concerns this caused to the family of the deceased."
The Macarine family, however, disputed that communications were "incomplete."
"It is rather a persistent refusal to provide to the family the information to which they are entitled since Feb. 27," the family said in an emailed statement Tuesday. "It is unacceptable that Lakeshore only reacted due to media coverage, first on March 10 and then yesterday."
The family said it doesn't trust the hospital and declined to meet with them. They are being assisted by Montreal-based activist civil rights group Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations to set up a meeting with the coroner's office.
The health authority said it has asked the coroner to investigate and that it will carry out an internal review, which it said started on March 5, when senior officials said they learned of the death. It said if any staff acted inappropriately, it will take action.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2021.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press