Baby left in closet at Saskatoon hospital

Two nurses who were on duty when a crying baby was put in a closet and a bathroom are headed back to work after being fired by the Saskatoon Health Region in 2008.

Two nurses who were on duty when a crying baby was put in a closet and a bathroom are headed back to work after being fired by the Saskatoon Health Region in 2008.

In a written decision last month, the Court of Queen's Bench upheld an arbitration board ruling that said firing the two over an Aug. 30, 2008 incident at Royal University Hospital was too harsh.

Instead, the three-month suspension that the arbitrators imposed was an appropriate punishment, Queen's Bench Judge Peter Foley said.

The 13-month-old girl, who was visually impaired, was admitted to the hospital after having a flu for about a week.

The child was crying inconsolably. She was put in a bouncy chair in a bathroom with the door closed and was left in a stroller in a storage closet later the same night.

The child was left in the bathroom for about 20 minutes and in the closet for about 90 minutes, according to court documents.

The girl's parents told arbitrators they came back in the morning to find their daughter completely exhausted and running a fever. They said she slept for 23 of the next 24 hours.

The two nurses who were responsible for the baby were found to have breached their professional duties.

The health region argued that firing the nurses was the appropriate response. The arbitration board said the two made "colossal" errors in judgment but reduced the punishment, and the region appealed to the courts.

"We felt it was serious for a variety of reasons," said Karen Newman, a spokeswoman with the Saskatoon Health Region. "We took the action we took and we stand by that action."

Judge Foley dismissed the health region's appeal.

The nurses, Elise Reban and Erica McCullock, have opted to go back to work at the pediatrics ward at Royal University Hospital. It's expected they'll be back at work soon.