The son of a 78-year-old woman who died in the front foyer of Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg, Ont., is still trying to comprehend his mother’s death.
“We were gearing up to get together for Mother’s Day,” Graham Devonshire said a day after Global News broadcast a story about the incident.
“Mother’s Day is going to be tough for our family for the rest of time.”
Graham Devonshire said his 78-year-old mother Joyce Devonshire died of an apparent heart attack while walking into the hospital for a routine appointment.
Joyce’s family said from the time she fell to the time Northumberland County paramedics arrived, 11 minutes had passed. They said it took 24 minutes to resuscitate her and that she died shortly after being removed from life support the next day.
“I’m completely convinced that had somebody performed CPR, any kind of first aid and got some oxygen into her body, she would be here today,” Graham said.
“She may not be perfect, but she’d be here today.”
Instead, the family is planning a funeral and Graham’s 80-year-old father Ted is now alone.
“They have to set up a whole new way to respond to these issues and it needs to be done yesterday,” Graham said.
In the aftermath of Joyce’s death several people have come forward to Global News and the local newspaper claiming similar situations have occurred at NHH before.
In a news release issued Wednesday, the hospital addressed those claims with some interesting wording, suggesting “a situation exactly like this one leading into the main front entrance has not occurred at NHH before.” That statement doesn’t rule out similar situations.
The hospital said it conducted an internal review and seven recommendations were announced:
1. Refresh education to all NHH staff and volunteers on the existing hospital policy directing the use of the existing 5555 telephone service to report emergencies on hospital property, regardless of where they occur
2. Instruct staff and volunteers to ‘err on the side of caution’ when calling emergency codes – they can be easily cancelled if found they are not required
3. Instruct volunteers to reach out to closest available staff if immediate assistance is required, so that a staff member may take over
4. Remind staff located at/near all entrances of their role to assist volunteers should they be in need of assistance
5. Add regular emergency code exercises in hospital entrance ways and parking lots to existing mock emergency training
6. Place prominent Emergency? Dial 5555 stickers on specified phones
7. Review the current process regarding emergency preparedness education for volunteers and staff during orientation and enhance as required
Global News has attempted to contact Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins for comment on this story, but he has been unavailable for interviews. However, Hoskins issued a written statement.
“As the hospital is reviewing this incident, at this time, my ministry will not be launching an investigation but are ready and willing to work with the hospital in the future on this important issue,” he said.
Meanwhile, as the family prepares to hold a small memorial service for Joyce next month, Graham told Global News the family is reviewing its legal options.
With files from Nick Westoll