The family of a woman who was found dead on the floor of her room in a Montreal-area hospital last month was not informed about the circumstances of her death or that the hospital had launched an internal investigation.
It was only after Candida Macarine’s family read a CBC News story about the death at Lakeshore General Hospital earlier this week — the night before her funeral — that they realized the patient referred to in the story was likely her.
“We realized that the information on the news tells us that this our mom,” Candida’s son, Placido Macarine, told CBC News on Wednesday.
“Our emotions were going from sadness to anger, restlessness — we needed some information, explanation because we knew 100 per cent that this is our mom.”
Confidential sources told CBC News on Monday about a patient who had been found “dead and ice cold” on the floor in an isolation room in the Pointe-Claire hospital’s ER on Feb. 27.
She had been in respiratory distress when admitted a few hours earlier and had been placed there while doctors determined whether she had COVID-19.
WATCH | Placido Macarine shares how it feels to know so little about his mother’s death:
But the room was impossible to see from a nurses’ station and, sources said, staff had repeatedly warned managers about problems monitoring patients in it.
The sources didn’t know the name of the patient, but when Macarine’s family saw the story, the dates, times and circumstances seemed to match. One of CBC’s sources was also later able to match her name with the circumstances laid out in the article.
But the family had no idea she had been found dead on the floor, or that the hospital had launched an investigation.
Family in shock
The family even visited the hospital on Tuesday — just after the funeral — and spoke to the head nurses in the ER.
“They never disclosed anything, even the name of my mom. I asked them many times: ‘Just tell us, please, just tell us if this is our mom and that’s enough,'” Placido said.
The head nurses still refused to say, he says.
He says his entire family is still in shock, and that it’s unfair and unacceptable that they were not informed.
“We were questioning why in the world the hospital did not say anything like this, and the night before the funeral we just saw this news telling us about what happened?” he said.
He described his mother as a quiet, religious woman who had 11 children and 17 grandchildren.
Families ‘always informed’
The West Island health agency, the CIUSSS de l’Ouest de l’Île de Montréal, refused to confirm if the patient in question was Candida Macarine, citing confidentiality.
“It should be noted that at any time and in all of our facilities, when a situation that appears to be irregular arises, families are immediately informed and the CIUSSS teams launch an investigation in order to shed light on it,” spokesperson Hélène Bergeron-Gamache said in an email Wedensday.
“Families are always informed of developments in the investigation, in real time,” she continued. The email didn’t explain why that doesn’t seem to have been the case the Macarine family.
A spokesperson for provincial Health Minister Christian Dubé offered condolences to the family.
“We deplore this unacceptable situation, which must never happen again,” spokesperson Marjaurie Côté-Boileau said in an email.
“We will closely monitor the situation and apply the recommendations of the investigation,” Côté-Boileau said.
Placido says his family wants more information and an explanation from the hospital. He said the family is seeking legal advice.