Administration took 6 days to discover drugs went missing on Wettlaufer’s last day of work, inquiry hears

Elizabeth Wettlaufer is escorted from the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont., on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017.
Elizabeth Wettlaufer is escorted from the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont., on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Dave Chidley

Administration from a long-term care facility in London took six days to find out narcotics had gone missing on Elizabeth Wettlaufer’s last day at the facility, a public inquiry heard on Wednesday morning.

The inquiry, which began in early June, comes nearly a year after Wettlaufer pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault. The 51-year-old used insulin on the victims in her care at three Ontario long-term care facilities and a private home.

Meadow Park’s handling practices of narcotics and insulin were the focus of the ongoing inquiry in St. Thomas.

READ MORE: Public inquiry sparked by Elizabeth Wettlaufer case set to begin in Ontario

Co-director of care and an administrator with Meadow Park, Melanie Smith, took the stand at Wednesday’s public hearing to explain how the long-term care facility would act once it was discovered that narcotics went missing.

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“We would do an internal investigation,” said Smith. “There would need to be a critical incident report filed to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.”

However, Smith testified that those steps weren’t followed when narcotics went missing in the spring of 2014.

“We haven’t seen a critical incident report,” said lead counsel Elizabeth Hewitt to Smith.

Smith admitted that one should have been filed, adding that doing so would have allowed the ministry to investigate the incident.

“Should the police have been called as well?” asked Hewitt, to which Smith replied, “Correct.”

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The inquiry heard another instance of missing drugs took place on Sept. 26, Wettlaufer’s final day at Meadow Park. Just a few days later, Wettlaufer told a supervisor she’d almost died from an overdose, the inquiry heard.

It wasn’t until Oct. 2, that administration discovered the narcotics had gone missing.

Smith testified that the narcotics were delivered to Wettlaufer’s unit on her final day and that Wettlaufer herself was working at the unit at the time of the delivery.

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Smith added that it was standard practice for the facility to have a backup supply of medications to fill resident needs. Hewitt asked Smith if it would be unusual for that backup supply to be missing to which Smith replied, “It would be.”

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On other handling practices, Smith testified that Meadow Park did not require a second registered staff member in the room when patients were given doses of insulin. She added it was not practical to have a second member on-hand to ensure the proper dosage of insulin was administered.

As of Wednesday, the Long-Term Care Homes Public Inquiry is now into its third week. Led by Commissioner Eileen Gillese, the inquiry is looking into how Wettlaufer’s crimes went undetected.

Wettlaufer was able to kill eight long-term care patients over the span of 10 years and her actions only came to light when she confessed them to mental-health workers and police.

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— With files from 980 CFPL’s Liny Lamberink

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