Errol Greene was to see doctor before given anti-seizure medication, inquest told

Beverly Reeves, the acting health services manager at the remand, was not scheduled to work on May 1, 2016, but came in to help the nurse who was working alone.

Nurse testifies medical staff needed doctor's authorization before administering drug

Errol Greene holds two of his four children. His son Errol Junior was born five months after his death. (Submitted by Rochelle Pranteau)

The nurse who treated both of Errol Greene's seizures at the Winnipeg Remand Centre had tears in her eyes when she told the court she initially called him by the wrong first name.

Beverly Reeves was not scheduled to work on May 1, 2016, but came in to help the nurse who was working alone.

Reeves was the acting health services manager at the time, and on that day picked up a shift as a general duty nurse. 

"It was an extremely busy day in a normally busy place," Reeves told the court on Tuesday.

Reeves testified that she had never met Greene and did not know he had epilepsy when she responded to the first code red.

"He was no longer seizing," Reeves said about Greene when she arrived on the fourth floor. "He was yelling, officers tried to keep him calm."

The inquest has previously heard that Greene was handcuffed and shacked and placed in his cell to calm down. Reeves said she asked that the restraints be removed once he was secured inside.

"Just the fact he was restrained may make a person more panicked," she testified.

She said she talked to him through the door and asked whether he could calm down so she could go get him medication. Reeves said there is a standing order that anyone who comes in to the remand intoxicated should be given Valium to help combat withdrawal.

The nurse who treated both of Errol Greene's seizures at the Winnipeg Remand Centre had tears in her eyes when she told the court she initially called him by the wrong first name. 1:33

She testified that at this point she did not know Greene was epileptic and went to the medical unit to review his file.

She said she was there for about 15 minutes when a second code red was called for the fourth floor. She said she instructed the other nurse to grab the Ativan, a drug that helps stop seizures.

Reeves said she told the head guard to call 911 and gave Greene a shot of the medication.

Asked why she didn't give him the drug after his first seizure she replied there is a standing order from remand doctors to not administer it until after an inmate has a second seizure.

Access to medication

The inquest heard from several witnesses that Greene had not been given his anti-seizure medication, valproic acid, while in custody from early Saturday April 30 to Sunday May 1.

Reeves testified that Greene's prescription had been confirmed Sunday morning through DPIN — the Drug Program Information Network, an online database that connects pharmacies and Manitoba Health.

Court previously heard the nurse who completed Greene's health assessment 12 hours after his arrival did not have access to DPIN. 

Reeves told the court that because Greene's prescription had only been filled twice in six months, medical staff decided he should see the doctor on Monday before getting his medication. 

Corey Shefman, who is representing Greene's widow, questioned Reeves on that decision.

"Given that he had reported taking his medication 24 hours prior, what reason did you have to deny him?" Shefman asked.

Reeves said because of the perceived inconsistency of Greene taking his medication she did not know whether he would have any adverse effects. She said she wanted a doctor to consult.

Shefman asked whether she would have done anything differently given the outcome of Greene's death. 

"I would have forwarded it to the doctor," she replied.

There are no doctors at the remand after hours or on weekends. A one-hour clinic with a doctor is held Monday to Friday.

Reeves will continue her testimony on Wednesday followed by the other nurse on duty the day Greene died. 

The inquest into Greene's death at the remand centre on May 1, 2016 was called by the chief medical officer to determine the circumstances and events leading up to his death and what, if anything, can be done to prevent similar deaths.