Nova Scotia

Family of woman who had bone-deep bedsores wants police case reopened

The family of a woman who died from an infection from a massive bone-deep pressure ulcer wants Halifax Regional Police to reopen their case into her death after a report found problems with how she was cared for at a Halifax nursing home.

Chrissy Dunnington died at the age of 40 after being hospitalized due to an infected pressure ulcer

Chrissy Dunnington died from an infection related to an untreated pressure ulcer. (Submitted)

The family of a woman who died from an infection from a massive bone-deep pressure ulcer wants Halifax Regional Police to reopen their case into her death.

It comes after Nova Scotia's Health and Wellness Department released a report dated Dec. 11 that stated incidents of failure to provide adequate nutrition, care, medical attention or necessities of life at Shannex's Parkstone Enhanced Care in Halifax were founded.

Although the report doesn't mention her name, Chrissy Dunnington's family confirmed it was about her and the care she received at Parkstone. The 40-year-old woman died in March 2018.

"Things have clearly evolved since [police] closed the case and there's more evidence available now and there's questions around the evidence they were using, that they relied on to make that decision," Dorothy Dunnington, Chrissy's sister, told CBC News in an interview on Monday.

"So we think there is justification in reopening the case."

Dorothy Dunnington says she's pleased Parkstone is making improvements to their care, but she doubts this would have happened if her family hadn't gone public about her sister's death. (CBC)

Chrissy Dunnington was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, a condition that caused a buildup of fluids in her brain. She had cognitive and physical disabilities and used a wheelchair.

At her family's urging, she was rushed to hospital eight weeks before she died for treatment of a bone infection, septic shock, pneumonia, a urinary tract infection and severe dehydration.

What the report said

Halifax Regional Police dropped its investigation into Chrissy Dunnington's death in September, concluding there was no criminal wrongdoing.

Dorothy Dunnington said the family was in contact with Halifax Regional Police after they received and read the report's findings on Friday. She said the family is still waiting for a response.

Investigators are reviewing the new information and have yet to decide if they will reopen the case, Halifax Regional Police Const. John MacLeod said in an email Tuesday.

The report highlighted problems with how Parkstone cared for Chrissy Dunnington.

"There were gaps in the overall coordination and oversight of care of the resident, gaps in documentation, gaps in assessments, and limited consultations with internal/external health professionals," it said.

"Although the facility has comprehensive policies and best practice guidelines available to staff, there was evidence that staff were not following these policies and procedures on a consistent basis."

Parkstone responds

Parkstone Enhanced Care responded to the department's findings in a letter to its residents, families and staff last week.

It said it completed a review of its practices and has "implemented a number of enhancements" over the last two years, including a plan for improving wound care.

The facility plans to hold meetings with families, residents and staff to "listen to feedback and their perspective on how we can continue to improve."

The facility said it remains focused "on advocating for improved living environments and levels of care for younger people with complex health-care needs."

Dorothy Dunnington says she's pleased Parkstone is making improvements to their care, but she doubts this would have happened if her family hadn't gone public about her sister's death.

"They need to follow the standards, they need to actually be doing what they say they're going to do," Dunnington said.

About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.

With files from Elizabeth McMillan

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