Joyce Echaquan was left restrained, alone in hospital room before she died, coroner’s inquest hears

Montreal

Joyce Echaquan was left alone in a Quebec hospital room in restraints after a nurse gave her a sedative shortly before she died last September, according to testimony from a patient attendant heard Wednesday at the coroner's inquest into her death.

The coroner's inquest into Joyce Echaquan's death at a Quebec hospital last September continued in Trois-Rivières, Que., Wednesday. (Marie-Laure Josselin/Radio-Canada)

Joyce Echaquan was left alone in a Quebec hospital room in restraints after a nurse gave her a sedative shortly before she died last September, according to testimony heard Wednesday at the coroner's inquest into her death.

The patient attendant, whose name is protected under a publication ban, told the inquest at the Trois-Rivières courthouse that leaving a restrained patient unsupervised went against protocol at the Centre hospitalier régional de Lanaudière in Joliette, Que.

"There was no one with Joyce," said the attendant, who had to take several pauses during her testimony Wednesday to catch her breath as she teared up.

Coroner Géhane Kamel is investigating the death of Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw mother of seven who filmed herself at the hospital northeast of Montreal as female staff were heard insulting and mocking her not long before she died.

The inquest has heard that Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw mother of seven who filmed herself being insulted and mocked by hospital staff before she died, had numerous health problems, but no cause of death has yet been determined. (Facebook)

Echaquan was sedated, restrained

The patient attendant provided more insight Wednesday into what happened the morning of Echaquan's death on Sept. 28, 2020. She testified that Echaquan was calm and chatting on the phone when she first saw her at around 8 a.m.

But when the patient attendant came back from her break at around 10:15 a.m., Echaquan was kneeling on her hospital bed, banging her head against the wall and screaming.

The attendant tried to calm her down. "But I couldn't even catch her eye — it was empty, like she wasn't there," she said.

Echaquan was taken to a private room and given a sedative by a nurse, at which point she had calmed down. The attendant was the only one on the floor that day, had 38 people to care for, and went back on the floor.

"It was chaotic."

At 11 a.m., things went from bad to worse, she testified. Her colleague called her into Echaquan's room again.

She saw Echaquan had restraints on her feet and hands and said she was asked to add a waist belt, which is used to properly secure patients. She told the inquest that such restraints are used when patients are a threat to themselves or others.

The patient attendant said she didn't know what had happened before that.

"They just told me she was lying on the bathroom floor," she told the coroner.

Nurse stopped Facebook live video

During that time, she said the nurse told her in a panic that Echaquan "was filming us. She filmed everything. I deleted it."

The Facebook live video that Echaquan shared that day showed a nurse and another patient attendant who was in the room calling Echaquan stupid and saying she'd be better off dead.

Phone records disclosed to the inquest as evidence last week showed no video was actually deleted from Echaquan's phone, however the Facebook Live was stopped.

Following hospital protocol for whenever a person is filmed, the patient attendant testified she went to inform her superior about the video and then returned to her other patients.

Quebec Coroner Géhane Kamel has heard testimony from hospital workers, family members and law enforcement as the inquest into Echaquan's death continues. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Shortly after, a nurse came a third time to ask her to attend to Echaquan.

The attendant testified that she thought she was being asked to watch Echaquan because she had been restrained.

When she arrived, Echaquan's daughter was in the room, but no other staff members were present.

The patient attendant testified that she knew right away something was wrong.

"I thought 'Oh my God, we have a problem.' "

She called for help, told her colleagues "she isn't breathing" and quickly brought Echaquan to a resuscitation room.

Two patient attendants tried to resuscitate her for 45 minutes, but it was in vain.

Divide between hospital staff, Atikamekw community

During her testimony, the patient attendant apologized to the family, and said she hoped reconciliation could happen between the hospital and the Atikamekw community.

She said the language barrier had always been an obstacle to properly interacting with Atikamekw patients.

But since Echaquan's death, she said there's a divide that's been created.

"There's this fear — we don't know what to say, and they seem to fear us."

She said a lot needs to change to improve relations, including more resources to translate Atikamekw at the ER and more training, something that should have been done long before.

"No one ever listened, and someone had to die for things to get moving."

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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