The Quebec coroner’s office announced Sunday it will investigate the deaths of dozens of seniors at a private long-term care facility west of Montreal linked to what Premier Francois Legault has described as a possible case of “gross negligence.”
The office said in a statement that it will probe the circumstances surrounding the deaths and issue recommendations if needed.
“Remember that coroners intervene in cases of deaths that are violent, obscure or could have occurred following negligence,” the coroner’s office said in a statement.
A police investigation was launched over the weekend after regional health authorities were able to access patient files at the Residence Herron and found that 31 of the residence’s 150 or so seniors had died since March 13. Quebec’s health department is also investigating.
“We’re collecting documents, we’re seizing stuff like work schedules, lists of employees, different types of evidence we will analyze,” said Montreal Police spokesperson André Durocher. Officers will also be meeting with personnel, residents and family members to see if there is enough evidence to bring charges.
102-year-old Sam Abracen was among the 31 who have died at Herron. According to his family, Abracen was still vibrant and sharp. They want to know how the final days of his life played out.
“In the last four or five days, not only could I not get in touch with my grandfather, I couldn’t get anybody on the phone there, no nurses or anything. Then, the next call you get is he’s gone,” said Clifford Albert, Abracen’s grandson. Abracen died on April 6th, after the facility had gone into government trusteeship.
Medical malpractice lawyer Patrick Martin-Menard said a simple coroner’s inquest is not enough, and that families deserve a public inquiry into what happened at Herron.