Ontario Council Of Hospital Unions (OCHU)

Ontario Council Of Hospital Unions (OCHU)

January 15, 2013 11:50 ET

St. Joe's health care workers urge chief coroner attending Hamilton dinner today for inquest into beating death of psychiatric patient

HAMILTON, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 15, 2013) - Ontario's chief coroner Dr. Andrew McCallum is the guest speaker at a Hamilton Medical-Legal Society fund raising dinner today, January 15 where he will focus on inquest and death review leading to changes. While St. Joseph's health care workers are not attending the event tonight, they are hopeful Dr. McCallum will revisit initiating an inquest into the tragic May 2012 beating death of Michael Brewer, a forensic psychiatric patient at the hands of another patient at the facility.

Following Brewer's death the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 786 representing 350 registered practical nurses and nearly 700 other support staff at St. Joe's, wrote Dr. McCallum requesting that the coroner's office immediately initiate an inquest similar to what occurs following a death in a corrections facility. OCHU/CUPE drew attention to workplace conditions, specifically the lack of security, understaffing and overcrowding that may be contributing factors in this death.

In an officious response, the regional supervising coroner for the Hamilton region wrote that a decision regarding the necessity of a "discretionary inquest into the circumstances of this death will be made at the completion of the investigation and, should an inquest be called, it cannot proceed until criminal matters are complete and the appeal process is finished."

While the hospital administration has improved some aspects of security, little has changed, says CUPE 786 president Domenic DiPasquale.

"It was very disappointing to receive a response from the coroner's office that an inquest in this case was discretionary and that it would not happen until all the legal proceedings were done. That could take years. In the meantime little is done to prevent a similar incidence from happening again," says DiPasquale, who points out that several years ago a nurse was severely beaten by a patient and the hospital continues to report monthly first aid incidents involving nurses.

Although Dr. McCallum is moving on from the coroner's office to head up Ontario's scandal-plagued air ambulance service, DiPasquale says, "in light of the topic of his speech tonight, we think his office should reconsider our request for an inquest."

Tonight's Hamilton Medical-Legal Society dinner begins at 7 p.m. at Spencer's at the Waterfront, 1340 Lakeshore Road, Burlington.

Contact Information

  • CUPE Communications
    Stella Yeadon
    416-559-9300