Hamilton

Hamilton inmate rushed from Barton jail to hospital in 'medical distress'

An inmate from the Hamilton Wentworth Detention Centre was rushed to hospital overnight in medical distress, CBC News has learned.

Ministry will not confirm if the man survived

An inmate was taken to hospital overnight after being found in medical distress at the Barton Street jail. (Adam Carter/CBC)

An inmate from the Hamilton Wentworth Detention Centre was rushed to hospital overnight in medical distress, CBC News has learned.

Ministry of Community Safety and Corrections spokesperson Andrew Morrison confirmed that the man was taken to hospital — but would not talk about the man's condition, say what happened to him or even verify if the man was dead or alive.

"It would be inappropriate for the ministry to publicly discuss any further details out of respect for personal privacy, especially where health matters are involved," Morrison said.

A source from inside the jail told CBC News that the man was found unresponsive in his cell after overdosing, and corrections officers administered naloxone to save him.

Union representatives for local corrections officers could not immediately be reached for comment.

A long awaited, sweeping inquest into multiple overdose deaths at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre set for early 2018.

Hamilton paramedic Heidi Mazelow holds a vial of naloxone, which paramedics use to treat opioid overdoses. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

The inquest was originally announced in 2015, but a start date of January 2018 for the six-week proceedings wasn't announced until last August.

It will examine the deaths of eight men who overdosed and died at the Barton Street jail between 2012 and 2016.

Since the inquest has been announced, two more men have died inside the detention centre.

Inquests are designed to make recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future. A jury can recommend procedures for governing bodies to adhere to, though they're under no obligation to do so.

This is a drug a problem that isn't confined to the corrections system. People in Hamilton are dying from opioid overdoses at a rate of four a month, as an opioid epidemic clutches the entire country. There were 24 opioid overdose deaths in Hamilton in the first half of last year alone.

Health Canada is also analyzing an "unknown substance" that sent a jail guard to hospital last month.

Hamilton police say that "during the course of their duties" one afternoon in September, a group of correctional officers came into contact with some sort of substance, and they ended up calling for medical help.

"As the contact between the correctional officer and the unknown substance is believed to have resulted in the medical call for assistance, the Hamilton police vice and drug unit is investigating," a police news release reads.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adam Carter

Reporter

Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.

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