With no changes to ER since woman found dead, staff at Montreal's Lakeshore hospital worried about patients

Candida Macarine was found dead on the floor Feb. 27 in an isolation room in the ER at Lakeshore General Hospital that staff had warned managers about. Sources tell CBC News that nothing has changed and they're still worried about the safety of patients in that type of room.

Sources tell CBC News problems flagged to managers before Candida Macarine died still persist

Candida Macarine was found dead on the floor in an isolation room in the ER at Lakeshore General Hospital in February. (Jean-Claude Taliana/CBC)

More than two months after a woman was found dead on the floor at Lakeshore General Hospital in Montreal's West Island, no changes have been made to the layout of the emergency room in an effort to prevent a similar incident from happening, sources told CBC News.

Candida Macarine died Feb. 27, a few hours after being admitted with respiratory distress.

She was found dead beside her bed on the floor of one of three negative pressure rooms in the ER used for suspected COVID-19 patients.

Nurses had warned managers several times in the weeks prior to Macarine's death about problems being able to see directly into those rooms, making it difficult to monitor patients there.

Two sources who work at the hospital told CBC News on Monday nothing has changed in the layout of the ER since Macarine's death. CBC isn't identifying the sources because they fear they might be fired for speaking out.

"This is of deep concern because patients are still at risk. Visibility is still poor," one of the sources said.

"There's minimal visual contact with those patients due to a wall and a door," the second source said.

"Depending on how busy it is, it can be difficult to keep a good eye on the patients there," the second source added.

Both sources said that during the first wave of the pandemic, those rooms were equipped with closed-circuit cameras that allowed nursing staff to keep close tabs on patients. They said the cameras had since been removed because, staff were told, it wasn't legal to monitor patients in that way.

Lakeshore General Hospital is a designated COVID treatment centre, and the sources said those rooms are still used daily to treat suspected COVID patients.

Health agency says changes will be made 'in the coming days'

In a statement, Hélène Bergeron-Gamache, a spokesperson for the West Island health agency, the CIUSSS de l'Ouest de l'Île de Montréal, said those rooms were safe and necessary for the control of infectious diseases.

"The teams make frequent rounds of the rooms and pay particular attention to beds or stretchers further back," she said.

Despite that, Bergeron-Gamache said changes were coming.

"To ensure optimal security, an employee will be completely dedicated to the observation of these rooms," Bergeron-Gamache said.

"In the short term, renovations will ensure spaces that are better suited to an organization of work modelled on new practices," she continued.

Bergeron said the dedicated employee and the renovations would be implemented "in the coming days."

She also thanked employees who came forward for being committed to the quality and safety of care.

"We encourage all people to denounce situations that seem worrying to them and invite them to participate in the discussions for the sake of continuous improvement of practices," she said.

Family still waiting for answers

The Macarine family was initially not told of the circumstances of Candida Macarine's death. Staff at the hospital told them only that Macarine had died of cardiac arrest. 

The CIUSSS launched an internal investigation into the death without informing the family.

Candida Macarine died Feb. 27 a few hours after being admitted to the Lakeshore General Hospital. (Submitted by Placido Macarine)

It wasn't until the family noticed a CBC story two weeks after the death that they realized the woman who died was their mother.

That prompted the CIUSSS to ask the Quebec coroner's office to investigate to the death, and to admit that its communications with the family had been "incomplete".

Last month, the family said it had received next to no information or updates about either investigation.

After initially refusing, the family met with the CEO of the CIUSSS, Lynne McVey, on April 26.

Candida Macarine's son, Emmanuel Macarine, told CBC in an email last week that he felt the meeting was a "waste of time" and that the family still had many unanswered questions.

McVey refused a request for an interview.


Steve Rukavina is a journalist with CBC Montreal.