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The cousin of Samwel Uko is providing further detail as to what happened in the hours leading up to the 20-year-old’s death, saying the health-care system failed him.
Ginawi Ginawi said he brought Uko to the Regina General Hospital’s emergency room in the early morning of May 21, the day he died. Ginawi attempted to go into the hospital with Uko, but said he was denied entry due COVID-19 policies.
Uko’s body was discovered in Wascana Lake later that night.
“I think the hospital failed him. He was really ill and anytime I would sit with him I could see that his mind wasn’t there,” Ginawi said.
“He couldn’t speak for himself because he didn’t know what he was saying. That’s why I was supposed to be there for him and explain what is wrong with him.”
Ginawi said he gave the hospital his cellphone in case staff needed someone to help Uko communicate his problems. He said he never received a phone call.
While inside the hospital, Uko posted a video to Snapchat where he was seen repeating the words “I need help.”
The Saskatchewan Health Authority is currently investigating the incident, saying it cannot provide specific details regarding the situation.
However, SHA did shed light on its protocol when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions.
“SHA’s visitor restrictions permit a support person to accompany an emergency room patient who may have specific challenges such as mobility, hearing, visual or memory impairment,” SHA responded in an email to Global News.
“Other challenges may require a support person’s presence and would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”
Ginawi said Uko surprised the family with an impromptu visit to Regina on May 11, staying at his aunt’s house, Ginawi’s mother.
He said it didn’t take long for him to realize Uko was struggling with his mental health, saying he was paranoid about people wanting to kill him.
“He talked to himself, he laughed by himself. Sometimes I would think he was on the phone, but he would just be in his room talking to himself,” Ginawi said.
“I called his sister and she said he talks to himself, and does it all the time.”
After dropping Uko off at the hospital the morning on the day he died, Ginawi said Uko returned home after receiving what he thought was a prescription slip from the hospital.
He said he drove Uko to a pharmacy hours later, where they were told it wasn’t a prescription slip, but a form with directions on how to switch a B.C. health care card to a Saskatchewan one.
SHA was unable to confirm what was given to Uko by staff at the hospital, but told Global News patients are treated equally no matter where they are from in the country.
“The process for registering out-of-province patients is the same as for patients who are from Saskatchewan,” SHA said.
Ginawi said Uko bought an over-the-counter sleeping aid. He then returned Uko to his mother’s house.
Later that evening, Ginawi received a call from his mother saying Uko had left the home through his bedroom window.
Ginawi said it wasn’t much longer after that before he started seeing reports of a man discovered in Wascana Lake on social media.
The province said it recognizes the challenges mental health poses on the community, and ensures it is doing its best to provide support.
“I extend my sincere condolences to the family and friends of this individual. This a challenging time for all those that were close to him,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said.
“With respect to mental health and addiction supports that we have in our community, this is something we very much have been committed to over the course of the last number of years and in fairness I think it’s going to be something we are going to talk a lot more about in the years ahead.
“Unfortunately, all too often, the outcome is tragic as it was here this past week.”
Uko was from Abbotsford, B.C.