Watson Lake families seek answers from Yukon Hospital Corp.
The families of two more people who died after being treated at the Watson Lake hospital are speaking out.
Sixty-year old Mary Johnny died in August of 2012 of a bowel obstruction. She was admitted to the Watson Lake hospital on August 3rd and medevaced to hospital in Whitehorse on August 8th.
She died in the early morning hours of August 9th.
CBC News has learned of another recent death. Twenty-year old Jamie Porter was treated at the hospital for an injured shoulder in February 2013.
The doctor who treated Porter was a physician from Whitehorse who was temporarily working in Watson Lake.
Coroner Kirsten Macdonald found Porter died of a bacterial infection caused by the shoulder injury.
He had fallen on ice and hurt his shoulder. He went to see a doctor at the hospital, complaining of pain.
He was sent home but was x-rayed the next day, February 14. The x-ray showed no fractures — and according to the coroner's report, the doctor told Porter to ice the shoulder, take some Tylenol and get the shoulder moving.
Porter's condition worsened, with vomiting, cold sweats and diarrhea.
He collapsed on February 16th and was rushed to the Watson Lake hospital.
He died at eight o'clock that night.
The progression of what appeared to be such a minor shoulder injury towards sepsis and eventually sudden death of this young man is startling.- Yukon Coroner's report on death of Jamie Porter
The coroner's report was not critical of the care Porter received at the hospital.
Macdonald remarked in her report that "the progression of what appeared to be such a minor shoulder injury towards sepsis and eventually sudden death of this young man is startling."
But Jamie Porter's older brother wonders if he could have been saved.
Ken Porter says the family is still reeling from Jamie Porter's death.
"It makes me just roar inside, it's just horrible. Like my whole family just went through hard, hard, hard stuff. It was hard on especially my mother, right. It was very hard on her because that was her baby boy, and that was my baby brother, and my sister Jennifer looked after that boy lots... he was very important in all our lives. Not just one person — the whole community, everybody loved that boy."
Uncle regrets not getting Porter to Whitehorse hospital
I should have brought him to Whitehorse. You know, why did I wait so long?- Jim Wolftail, Jamie Porter's uncle
Jim Wolftail is Jamie Porter's uncle. Porter lived with Wolftail and called him 'Dad.'
Wolftail drove Porter to the hospital when he collapsed on February 16, meeting the ambulance on the way.
Wolftail regrets not taking Porter to Whitehorse as soon as he complained about his shoulder.
"I shouldn't believe the people at the hospital. When the hospital told us there was nothing wrong the first time, and then I brought him back the second time, they took an x-ray and they said there was nothing wrong and go home. I should have done more, as a parent. I should have brought him to Whitehorse. You know, why did I wait so long?"
Coroner's report recommends 'peer review' for doctor in Johnny case
Meanwhile, Mary Johnny's mother is demanding some answers from the medical community, and the Yukon Hospital Corporation, about her daughter's death.
The coroner's report was critical in its overall tone. It found there "was a lack of documentation by the attending doctor with only a superficial history and physical exam and no daily progress notes."
The report also found that "the patient's condition steadily deteriorated during the time in hospital and it would appear that her abdominal pain was not investigated with blood work or x-rays until the third day after admission. Even then, the finding of dilated loops of small bowel did not result in further investigation or intervention."
The patient's condition steadily deteriorated during the time in hospital and it would appear that her abdominal pain was not investigated with blood work or x-rays until the third day after admission. Even then, the finding of dilated loops of small bowel did not result in further investigation or intervention.- Yukon Coroner's report on death of Mary Johnny
By the time she arrived at Whitehorse General, Johnny was in severe shock and her organs were failing.The report goes on to say that when Johnny was medevaced to Whitehorse General, care at that facility was "appropriate and decisive."
She died at five o'clock the next morning.
The coroner said a "misdiagnosis" of alcohol withdrawal appeared to have been made.
She recommended that "steps be taken to address why the documentation was incomplete, and, as appropriate, to provide the physician with peer feedback with respect to the care provided in this case."
Johnny's mother wants answers
Mary Johnny's mother says no one has answered her questions about the care her daughter received while in Watson Lake hospital.
Eva Johnny cannot read or write.
She says no one from the medical community or the Yukon Hospital Corporation has talked to her.
"Nothing! They never explain nothing to me! So I don't know why they just let her die, though. I'd like to know about it. I know she could have lived right to this day. They never tell me anything. So how in the hell am I gonna know? All that newspaper was saying, somebody read it to me, was saying that she could have lived. But I don't know why they let her go. That's what really hurts me."
Eva Johnny sat with her daughter while she was in Watson Lake hospital and then travelled to Whitehorse to be at her bedside there.
Like Jim Wolftail, Eva Johnny wishes her daughter had been sent to Whitehorse sooner.
She sobbed as she recounted her daughter's last night.
"All night we stay with her. And then five o'clock in the morning, I woke up, I feel her chest, nothing move. So that nurse right away she come to me. 'Your daughter's gone', she say. They could have saved her. It just hurt me lots. I stay up with her all night in Whitehorse hospital. If they only sent her out, boy, right now she could have lived. "
Johnny is determined to hire a lawyer.
"I try to save up that pension I get to do something about her death. I just don't know how much he will charge me though. I just keep saving up steady."
So far Eva Johnny says she has saved $6,000.
Yukon Hospital Corporation must account, says brother of dead man
Ken Porter is also frustrated.
Ken Porter hopes the Yukon Hospital Corporation and the medical community at large understands what his family — and other families — have gone through.
"Hopefully they just smarten their stuff up and start realizing that these are lives they're playing with. Not their lives or whatever, right? Somebody's got to be accountable for it, definitely. And it's maybe not just one person, but there's a whole staff in there too... We're talking about people's lives here. It's just like our family has to deal with it because we lost our baby brother. Not their baby brother but ours, right?"
The doctor who treated Mary Johnny at the Watson Lake hospital declined an interview with CBC.
The CBC has also requested interviews with both the chair and the CEO of the Yukon Hospital Corporation.
The hospital corporation is responsible for the operation and management of the Watson Lake hospital.
However, the CBC did not receive calls from the corporation before deadline.