Hospital slow to react to Geldart's disappearance, says psychiatrist
Final witnesses in the coroner's inquest into Kevin Geldart's deathevaluated response from the RCMP and Moncton Hospital, the two organizations that had contact withhim before he died.
Geldart, a psychiatric patient at Moncton Hospital, showed up at the Right Spot bar in Moncton the night of May 5, 2005. When staff noticed he was acting strangely, the RCMP were called. Police restrained Geldart using a Taser, in an attempt to return him to the hospital. Geldart died shortly after.
Witness and psychiatrist Gary Chaimowitz said Thursday the only lapse he could see in the hospital's procedure was the amount of time it took for staff to act once it was clear Geldart was missing.
Three days before the fateful altercation, Geldart, who was bipolar,had beeninvoluntarily checked into Moncton Hospital's psychiatric unit. After two days in the unit, he was moved from a secured area to an unlocked area, but he had no permission to leave the floor.
Geldart should have stayed on the unit that night, but he went out for a cigarette and didn't come back. Although he was supposed to be observed every 15 minutes, it took hospital staff over a half hour to notify police that Geldart was missing.
While Chaimowitz said the response was relatively quick, the hospital was clearly not meeting its own internal requirements, which was that Geldart be accounted for every 15 minutes.
"It took some time for people to recognize that this individual hadn't returned, and probably shouldn't have left the ward even for a cigarette," Chaimowitz said Thursday. "In my opinion, if your policy says don't leave the ward and somebody leaves the ward, immediately at that point you should respond."
The RCMP also looked at its own response in the Geldart case. Four of its officers tried to restrain Geldart at the Right Spot Bar and return him to the hospital. Even though Geldart was shocked by the Taser and pepper sprayed, the RCMP investigator found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the officers, and found no use of excessive force.
The inquest into Geldart's death wraps up Friday, with recommendations from the jury and coroner.