NDP disappointed no inquest called into death of Manitoba First Nations woman being sent to Ontario for COVID care

     Krystal Mousseau

 By Dave Baxter,

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The leader of the Manitoba NDP says he is disappointed that an inquest won’t be called into the death of Krystal Mousseau, a First

Wab Kinew

Nations woman who died last spring during an attempt to transfer her out of the province to receive care for COVID-19.

“It is a clear instance of a Manitoban dying in a situation that came about because our health care system ran out of capacity,” NDP leader Wab Kinew said Monday while speaking in the Manitoba Legislature.

“Now the government’s decision to not call an inquest here is disappointing, there are still many unanswered questions about her care.”

Mousseau, a 31-year-old mother of two from the Ebb and Flow First Nation, died on May 25, 2021 during an attempt to transport her from Brandon to Ottawa to receive care for COVID-19.

One day after Mousseau died, Shared Health said that a patient, later confirmed to be Mousseau, had “destabilized” prior to takeoff and had to be returned to the ICU in Brandon by the critical care transport team.

In January, Kinew requested that the Chief Medical Examiner (CME) conduct an inquest into Mousseau’s death, but in a March 1 letter Dr. John Younes said that there would be no inquest.

In explaining his decision, Younes wrote that “a carefully considered decision was made to move patients out of province to make room for incoming patients who would otherwise not survive.

“The patients who were transferred were determined to be those who had the highest likelihood of tolerating the process without complication, but any transfer of any ICU patient carries risk, even within the same hospital.”

In his letter, Younes said he did not think an inquest was necessary because “there is no mystery” surrounding Mousseau’s death.

“The purpose of an inquest is to examine the circumstances of someone’s death, determine the cause and manner of the death, and look for systemic failures that could be addressed to prevent future similar deaths,” Younes wrote.

“It is certainly not the role of an inquest to second-guess complex medical decisions, particularly those made under horrific circumstances. As the cause, manner and circumstances of Miss Mousseau’s death are known, there are no grounds for the calling of an inquest in this case.”

Mousseau’s death came during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba last spring, a period when hospitals in the province were being overrun with COVID patients, and the province was forced to airlift several COVID patients out of province to receive care.

Kinew also confirmed this week that he has written to the CME asking that they “square their rationale” not to hold an inquest into Mousseau’s death.

“We will continue to advocate and ask questions, pushing for answers in demanding justice for Krystal,” Kinew said.

In a statement sent to the Winnipeg Sun on Tuesday, Shared Health confirmed they have completed their own investigation surrounding Mousseau’s death, and that the results of that investigation have been shared with her family.

“We want to again express our condolences to the family and friends who have felt the effects of this loss,” a Shared Health spokesperson said.

“Shared Health and Prairie Mountain Health declared the circumstances of this patient’s death to be a critical incident last year. Since that time, an investigation has been completed and the results shared with family.”

In the email, the spokesperson confirmed that Manitoba transferred a total of 57 COVID patients who they said were “appropriate for transfer” to ICUs in other provinces between May 19 and June 9 of last year, while also confirming that in total 12 Manitobans have died while receiving treatment for COVID outside of the province.

-Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

 

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