In-custody deaths trigger review of medical staffing at major jails, youth centres

The province is reviewing medical staffing at its major jails and youth centres, but a spokesperson cautions against expecting changes anytime soon.

Absence of 24-hour staffing an issue in two most recent coroner's inquests

Corrections and Public Safety spokesperson Drew Wilby did not have a timeline for any possible changes. (CBC)

The province is reviewing medical staffing at Saskatchewan's major jails and youth centres after it emerged as an issue at the two most recent coroner's inquests.

The inquests looked at in-custody deaths at Kilburn Hall Youth Centre and the Saskatoon Correction Centre.

Jurors at the Kevin Umpherville inquest this week heard how there are no nurses or doctors working at the Saskatoon jail overnight.

It is something we're definitely taking a look at.- Corrections and Public Safety spokesperson Drew Wilby

Umpherville was hospitalized twice in a 24-hour span after overdosing on methadone on Dec. 30, 2015. Jurors heard how he was mistakenly sent back to the jail with a lethal dose of methadone in his body because the emergency room doctor was given incorrect information from a drug centre in Alberta.

Umpherville was discovered unresponsive in his cell on Dec. 31. He was taken off life support two weeks later.

"It is something we're definitely taking a look at," said Corrections and Public Safety spokesperson Drew Wilby. 

"I know this came up in the last inquest as well, with the young offender from Kilburn Hall Youth Centre. We look to expand our nursing coverage at the youth facilities because they're not as long as the adult, either."

Kevin Umpherville, 22, died at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre as a result of a methadone overdose. (Facebook)

Youth died of overdose at Kilburn Hall

Wilby did not have a timeline for any possible changes.

"I would suggest with the medical services probably over the course of the last year, I'm not sure when it plans to wrap up and when we'll have some hard recommendations."

The other inquest concerned a 17-year-old boy — who cannot be named because of provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act — who had been arrested on July 25, 2015, for allegedly breaching a community supervision order.

He was taken to Kilburn Hall Youth Centre, where he died of an overdose five days later, on July 30.

Jurors at his inquest recommended better training and more nurses for the facility, as well as the creation of an emergency response plan.