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Halifax police close investigation into death of long-term care resident with bedsore infection

Click to play video: 'Family questions health department putting investigation on hold' Family questions health department putting investigation on hold
WATCH (Jun 18, 2018): Family members of Chrissy Dunnington say they don't understand why the Nova Scotia government has put its investigation into the care of the deceased woman on hold. – Jun 18, 2018

Halifax Regional Police have closed the investigation into the death of a long-term care facility resident, who died eight weeks after being taken to hospital with a fist-sized bone-deep bedsore infection.

Halifax police have not disclosed the identity of the woman, but Global News has previously identified her as 40-year-old Chrissy Dunnington, a wheelchair user who was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

Police launched the investigation into Dunnington’s death after a complaint was filed in May 2018 and Elizabeth Deveau went public with her complaints about her sister’s treatment.

READ MORE: N.S. spending $2.5 million to address bedsores at care homes

Dunnington was a resident of Parkstone Enhanced Care at 156 Parkland Drive, when she was taken to hospital by ambulance on Jan. 28, 2018, to be treated for a medical condition. She died eight weeks later on March 22, 2018.

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Police say the complaint was received on May 23, 2018, and that they were looking at whether the woman’s death was the “result of criminal negligence” while she was a resident at the facility.

Police said in a press release issued late on Friday that there was “no evidence to suggest that the death was a result of criminal wrongdoing.”

Deveau had previously told Global News that her sister first moved into the facility in November 2016 and died 15 months later from an infected stage 4 pressure ulcer, or bedsore.

“It went right to her tailbone, the infection was into her spine and into her bones by the time she ended up in hospital,” Deveau said.

WATCH: Severe bedsores identified as widespread issue in NS long-term care facilities

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Severe bedsores identified as widespread issue in NS long-term care facilities – Jun 21, 2018

Deveau says her sister was paraplegic and had cognitive dysfunction but was “healthy in every other way” before she moved in.

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“So we have a tremendous number of questions to how she got to the injury of pressure ulcers, what about her care led to that,” she said.

“We’re encouraged that police are taking this seriously and we have every confidence they’re going to do a thorough investigation and hopefully get to the bottom of what happened.”

Deveaux did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

READ MORE: Halifax police investigate death of long-term care resident who had bedsore infection

Matt Proctor, vice president of marketing and communications for Shannex Inc., which operates Parkstone Enhanced Care, said that this has been been an “extremely difficult and complex situation.”

“We appreciate that the police investigation determined there was no wrongdoing,” Proctor wrote in a statement.

“We have a culture of quality improvement and take every opportunity when a concern is brought forward to understand how we can do better for our residents, families and team members.”

An investigation into Dunnington’s case by the Department of Health under the Protection for Persons in Care Act was suspended once the police announced their investigation.

Dan Harrison, a spokesperson for the Department of Health, says that the end of the police investigation into Dunnington’s death means that the department’s investigation has resumed.

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Dunnington’s death caused Nova Scotia to announce new rules requiring long-term care facilities to report bedsores to the province and $2.5 million to address bedsore issues at long-term care homes.

There are about 6,900 nursing home beds and 900 residential care beds in Nova Scotia that serve about 11,000 people each year.

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