Saturday, January 2, 2010

Fallout from Liberal ER closure: Niagara MPP Craitor seeks coroner's inquest

I am still waiting for a reply to the following letter which I had sent on Aug.3, 2009 to Ontario's Minister of Health, David Caplan; to Niagara Region's health officers Robin Williams and Doug Sider, and to Ontario's Chief Coroner Andrew McCallum:

"Dear Sirs:

We need an inquiry into Helen Harris' death (see

Will Ontario's Coroner; or Niagara's Regional Officer of Health; or Liberal Health Minister David Caplan's own Ministry of Health; call for an investigation regarding the circumstances of the recent death of St. Catharines resident Helen Harris?

Ms. Harris' death was reported in a St. Catharines Standard news report on July 30, 2009. (See here)

We must thoroughly examine the process and timing of how and why this patient was transported at some point to the United States for health care treatment. What factors led to the patient being exported to the U.S.? Which specific necessary health care services and facilities were not available to this patient in Ontario, when this patient needed them - and why? Is this not a systemic problem, which is disturbingly common in Dalton McGuinty's health monopoly?

I have asked St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley on several occasions to provide specific figures as to the number of patients who are being exported from Ontario to the United States.

Secretive Liberal MPP Jim Bradley has not bothered to reply.

Seeing as Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government has just helped close down ER's in South Niagara; and seeing that McGuinty's Liberals downplay any deficiencies in their health monopoly, isn't an investigation into the Niagara-centric specifics of Harris' situation called for?

If patients from St. Catharines (such as Harris, and others) have to be sent to the United States for certain health care; what is in store for patients from more remote South Niagara areas, in the same circumstance? Where will similar patients from, say, Dunnville, be sent? Is the health care in Niagara 'adequate', and, what does 'adequate' really mean? Why are Ontarians being exported to the States for health care in the first place?

Will anyone bother to officially investigate Harris' death as a baseline exam for future comparative reference; as a preventative, cautionary tale; and as an autopsy of Liberal health promises?

Will the McGuinty Liberals be held liable for preventable deaths occurring in their health system?

Prior to the news of Harris' death, McGuinty's Liberals had recently finally revealed their response to the Shona Holmes' lawsuit - which, of course, also revolves around a patient going from Ontario to the United States for timely medical treatment.

Holmes fortunately survived.

We must inquire to see exactly what happened in Helen Harris' case, and why this Canadian patient ended up in a Buffalo hospital for health care."

The concerns and issues I raised in my above letter were NOT answered by either Caplan, McCallum, Sider, or Williams.

The only indirect contact I received was from Robin Williams, who, claiming that my concerns were "outside the realm of our public health responsibilities", then apparently forwarded my letter to someone by the name of "Pat Mandy", whom I don't know and who hasn't bothered to contact me either.


On the same subject (regarding the coroner investigating what should be seen as suspicious patient deaths in Niagara's Liberal-run health monopoly) I sent the following letter on Aug.6, 2009 to St.Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley, with copies to Caplan, McCallum, Sider, and Williams. This following letter has been ignored by Liberal MPP Jim Bradley:

"Dear Mr. Bradley,

As my MPP, will you call for, or support, a corner's inquest regarding the death of Helen Harris? Do you have any comment or response to the issues and questions raised in this letter?

Coroner investigates Don Davis' death in Port Colborne (see here)

Allan Benner wrote in "Coroner investigating death of Port Colborne man", (Aug.6, 2009, St. Catharines Standard):

"The regional coroner's office is investigating the circumstances that led to the death of a 70-year-old Port Colborne man last week.

But regional supervising coroner Dr. Jack Stanborough said it's really just a routine investigation -- one of about eight per day his office is required to look into. And the investigation, he stressed, was not prompted by any extenuating circumstances or recent media attention.

"This investigation was not triggered by anything but the proper channels being initiated. It wasn't because of the media outcry or whatever. This case was actually accepted long before there was any attention brought to it by the media," he said. "This is a death that's being investigated because it should have been."

At about 10:20 a. m. on July 28, the lone Niagara ambulance serving Port Colborne at the time was involved in a collision a few blocks away from the apartment of Don Davis, who was in need of help.

As a result of that collision, a second ambulance was dispatched from Welland, and it took more than 40 minutes before the patient arrived at Welland hospital, where he later died.

Mayor Vance Badawey and People's Healthcare Coalition member Pat Scholfield have questioned whether the outcome might have been different if the patient could have been brought to the Port Colborne hospital a few blocks away. The Port Colborne hospital's emergency department was downgraded to an urgent care centre at the beginning of July.

"This is not something we're going to take lightly," Badawey said.

"We're very concerned that this death could have been preventable," Scholfield added, speaking on behalf of the coalition. "The question is, if the ambulance had been able to take this gentleman to the closest hospital -- Port Colborne hospital which is about four blocks away -- would his life have been saved if we had a functioning ER?

"We think it's a wake-up call really."

But Stanborough said the investigator looking into the incident is required to approach it with no preconceived ideas about what happened.

He said investigators "don't suppose. They don't guesstimate, and they don't make hypothetical outcomes in their reports. I discourage people from doing that because that's inappropriate."

Instead, he said the investigation, being conducted with the co-operation of the NHS, Niagara EMS and any other organizations that might have been involved, is being done to determine facts like how and why the patient died, "and to propose any changes that might prevent similar deaths in similar situations in the future."

The coroner's office is required to investigate all non-natural deaths like homicides and accidents, natural deaths that occur in long-term care homes, as well as natural deaths that have "concerns or issues" surrounding them.

Scholfield and Badawey are hoping the coroner will call a full inquest into the incident.

But Stanborough said it's far too early to determine if a full inquest into the incident will be warranted.

Badawey said the incident is a symptom of a larger problem with the delivery of hospital services in Port Colborne, "and if that (problem) is not addressed it's not maybe, it will happen again."

Meanwhile, an internal investigation by Niagara EMS is being done to determine if ambulance services in Port Colborne needs to be enhanced, said EMS deputy chief Steve VanValkenburg."


The same questions apply concerning the death of Helen Harris, who had a stroke in St. Catharines, and eventually ended up (for reasons unknown and unexplained) in a hospital in the United States.

The coroner's motto is "We speak for the dead to protect the living".

The late Helen Harris...

here )

... deserves to have her voice heard now - to tell us what happened, to warn us, to show us what conditions prevailed at the time of her sudden illness that she could not find the necessary health care in Ontario, and had to be exported to Buffalo.

Helen Harris' case has 'concerns and issues' surrounding it, as does Don Davis' case. Why was Davis, for example, NOT sent to Buffalo for health care? Why do some patients end up in the States, yet others don't? And what does the Liberal health monopoly's funding model have to do with any of this - in terms of necessary facilities and trained staff being available to Niagara patients in a timely and accessible manner?

When Badawey says that the Davis incident is a symptom of a larger problem with the delivery of hospital services in Port Colborne - he is expressing the tenor of my entire Liberal health care duplicity series of posts; but I believe that the problem is larger than Port Colborne - it is a systemic Ontario Liberal health care problem; Port Colborne is but one victim of the fallout of Liberal single-payer monopolist health care. McGuinty's Liberals have deemed, for whatever secretive, expedient political reason, that Port Colborne can take the brunt of whatever medical-thresh-hold of risk that the Liberals have decided in their monopolist, no-patient-choice wisdom to mete out.

Maybe the Liberals have already factored the proximity of the States into their health care policy, and are counting on buying access to the American health care system (which Liberals such as MPP Jim Bradley love to deride) to cover the Liberal's health care cuts and underfunding.

Of course, secretive Liberals such as MPP Jim Bradley will not answer any questions regarding these matters. Jim's personally building a new super hospital in St. Catharines, you see: therefore, ya can't blame Good Ole Jim for any health care problems!

The concern about "guesstimates" expressed by Stanborough is quite right - but, still, that's why we can still ask for coroner's inquiries - to actually find out. A political pattern will show if you have enough inquiries - but it's sad that this is the way to do it.

And - as with Ombudsman findings - McGuinty, Bradley and the rest of the Grit gang of monopolists ultimately really aren't bound by what a coroner says. The Liberals are accountable only to a failed single-payer monopolist ideology - not to patients!

Liberals and other single-payer-pushers love using the word "anecdote" to demeaningly describe the myriad Davis' and Harris' and Holmes' experiences with Ontario's Liberal health care.

What smells about the Badawey/Scholfield approach is that they seem to want MORE Liberal health care duplicity - not more patient-payer choice. (Let's say that Davis had gone to the United States for health care, not to Welland; and had survived, and then demanded answers of his government's health care failures - would he too be subject to pages of single-payer-pushers on Facebook demanding to "Deport Don Davis", as they are saying of Shona Holmes?!)

Let's see what happened to Don Davis; let's see also what happened to Helen Harris.

I'm sure Liberals won't like it."

Liberal cabinet minister Jim Bradley has not bothered to answer my concerns raised in the above letter.

Has coroner Stanborough examined the circumstances of Don Davis' death? Has the press released the coroner's findings - if any - on Don Davis' case?

When I was asking in Aug. 2009 "what happened to Don Davis and Helen Harris", nobody bothered to answer me.

By the way, I had also sent copies of both my above Aug.3 and Aug.6, 2009 letters to Dalton McGuinty, and to Niagara Falls Liberal MPP Kim Craitor. Like McGuinty and Bradley, Craitor also couldn't be bothered to answer any of my concerns.

Yet now, Craitor is starting to ask the same questions - not about the still-unanswered concerns regarding his Liberal-run health-monopoly's response to the circumstances of Don Davis or Helen Harris - but about another person, Reilly Anzovino, who died enroute to Welland after a car accident near Port Colborne:

Ray Spiteri reported in "Craitor calls for inquiry to see if ER closures played role in death", (St.Catharines Standard, Jan.2, 2010, here):

"Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor wants a public inquiry to determine if the closing of emergency rooms in Fort Erie and Port Colborne played a role in the death of a Fort Erie teen who was involved in a car crash on Boxing Day.

Craitor has written Ontario's chief coroner, Dr. Andrew McCallum, asking that he investigate the death of 18-year-old Reilly Anzovino.

Craitor said he feels that without an examination of all the facts, the community's concerns will grow and undermine the confidence in the delivery of health care to Fort Erie residents.

"It is important to get all the facts from an impartial source so we can address any deficiencies," Craitor said.

Anzovino was a passenger in a car involved in a collision near the Highway 3 and Nigh Road intersection. She died en route to the Welland hospital.

Craitor said there is concern in Fort Erie that Anzovino's death was unnecessary and a result of the conversion of ERs to urgent-care centres at Fort Erie's Douglas Memorial Hospital in September and Port Colborne General Hospital in July.

Craitor said the Port Colborne facility is about 10 minutes away from the collision, the Fort Erie location 13 minutes and the Welland site 22 minutes.

"It is being argued somewhat passionately that the nine-to 12-minute time difference would have made a difference in the life of this young woman," he said. "Since the emotions in this case are particularly strong, it is very important that the public clearly understand all the facts and circumstances in this case at this time."

In an interview Thursday, Craitor said he hasn't spoken to Anzovino's family.

"They're in a time of grief and it's not the time for me to have discussions like this."

He said he believes the chief coroner has the discretionary power to look into the circumstances surrounding the death.

"I didn't take this lightly. It's not a simple thing. I thought it over for the last couple of days."

A Niagara Health System official said the NHS will co-operate with any decision made by the Office of the Chief Coroner.

"We understand the need for public understanding of the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident to have confidence in the delivery of health care in Niagara," Caroline Bourque-Wiley, NHS public affairs consultant, said Thursday.

Craitor said after Anzovino's accident, he received e-mails from people concerned about changes to hospital services in Fort Erie.

"I had a number of people . . . that saw the story (about Anzovino's death) and questioned, 'Would it have made a difference had she gone to Fort Erie? How do you know and how do you find out?' "

He said an inquiry would address public concerns."

Once again - ANY impartial examination of how Dalton McGuinty's Liberal-run health monopoly has dealt with Niagara is welcome.

When Dr. Kitts made his HIP presentation (see here) he even mentioned the possibility of helicopters being used to transfer patients around Niagara - very little was made of this hint at the time, or since. Are helicopters required for the NHS's Liberal-instigated HIP health-care- rationalization plan to work?! Or a partnership with the hospitals in Buffalo?

Weren't the circumstances of Don Davis' or Helen Harris' deaths taken seriously by Craitor, or anyone else? Will Craitor now also advocate for them as well? (Craitor's Liberal colleague next door in St.Catharines, Jim Bradley, couldn't be bothered to advocate for Davis or Harris. Why?)

Will Craitor also ask for a public inquiry into why the NHS's St.Catharines hospital was found in in late 2007 as having had the third-highest patient death-rate in Canada?

St.Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley strangely couldn't be bothered to call ANY inquiry - whether ombudsman; public; or police - into why his own city's hospital had such a high patient death rate (see here; here; here).

Were Liberal health-care cutbacks related to this high patient death rate at the St.Catharines hospital? Former Liberal health-minister George Smitherman's spokeswoman Laurel Ostfield claimed in Dec.2007 that a review of operations at the NHS (a review suggested at the time by Kim Craitor) wasn't a direct response to high death rates at St. Catharines' General Hospital!! (see here)

Yet it is astounding to see - and to remember - that at the same time as this Liberal spokeswoman was denying any links between the high patient death-rate and the Liberal's health care funding model, NO LIBERAL BOTHERED to call for any inquiry into the NHS's high death-rate!!

And, as we've since seen, a 'review of reviews of the NHS' was carried out - supposedly ahem 'unrelated' to the high death-rate!! - which by Oct.2008 directly led the NHS's HIP cuts - one fallout of which (the closing of ER's in south Niagara) Craitor is now asking coroner McCallum to investigate!

But why has NO ONE investigated why the St.Catharines hospital had this high patient mortality rate in the first place - which led to the NHS 'reviews', then to the HIP, then to the ER closures, all necessary, as we were told by Smitherman and Caplan, to 'cut deficits and save money'??

If, as Craitor says, an inquiry into the Anzovino case is now necessary to address public concerns, why wasn't it as necessary and as relevant to address public concerns in Davis' or Harris' case; or in the high-patient-death-rate case in St.Catharines; or in the hundreds of cases of c. difficile patients killed in the Liberal's health system?

Will Liberal Craitor also advocate for a public inquiry into the systemic failure of Dalton McGuinty's single-payer, government-funded health-care monopoly; from its despotic single-payer nature, to its politicized, un-realistic block-funding, to its unelected-bureaucrat-run delivery?

Ontario patients are victimized by Liberal healthcare duplicity every day. Is the answer simply that Liberals need to 'do more' - as in more government control; or, that they've 'done enough' - as in done enough statist damage - and need to rethink their ideological single-payer health-care despotism?

Can a single coroner's report or a single ombudsman's report answer these fundamental political questions? Wouldn't any such report - if seen as remotely unfavourable to Ontario's single-payer-pushing-status-quo - be immediately trivialized and dismissed by the Liberals as 'anecdotal' ?!

How many coroner's reports and ombudsman's reports would it take before McGuinty's monopolist Liberals admit that, contrary to their false monopolist claims, they cannot take care of everybody all the time?

At least one McGuinty Liberal is now waking up and starting to ask some questions. While assessing 'deficiencies' Craitor should also examine the related consequences of his own health-care nanny-state ideology: does his bankrupt Liberal health-care monopoly need to do more of the failed-same; or has it done enough damage?

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