WARNING: Video in this story contains images of sensitive nature which may not be suitable for all viewers. Discretion is advised.
Questions are being answered for the family of Samwel Uko after the Saskatchewan Health Authority released its review documenting what went wrong the day the 20-year-old B.C. resident died in Regina’s Wascana Lake on May 21.
In a four-page review, the SHA outlines exactly what happened the day Uko visited the Regina General Hospital’s emergency room twice, seeking help.
The SHA admits that procedure wasn’t followed during his second visit.
“I am deeply sorry. I am sorry to the parents who loved him, I’m sorry to the family who supported him and nurtured him and watched him grow into the young leader that he was,” said Scott Livingstone, SHA CEO.
“As an organization, we failed Samwel, not because of one specific thing that happened, but because of multiple factors that converged and resulted in denying him care.”
Uko was removed by four security guards during his second visit as video surveillance shows him calling for help saying he has mental health issues.
On Thursday, Global News received video footage of inside the hospital.
Shortly after, his body was pulled from Wascana Lake. Uko’s uncle said the family appreciated the apology, but is still having trouble dealing with the loss.
“We understand they say they’re sorry for what they did. It was wrong and shouldn’t have been done,” Justin Nyee said.
“As a family, we hear that and it means a lot to us. We wanted to hear that, but on the other hand, we still feel the pain and hurt of what he went through.”
Other mistakes, as stated by SHA, include failing protocol when it comes to its registration process dealing with unidentified patients, sharing proper information practices with key partner organizations, and the removal of patients/visitors.
The SHA, along with the province, outlined a number of changes to address its current problems when dealing with situations like Uko’s, some of which are already in place:
- Improve registration and triage processes.
- Adapt COVID-19 screening and visitation protocols.
- Improve information sharing with key partner organizations.
- Address gaps in process for removing someone from an SHA facility.
- Improve co-ordination of mental health supports within the emergency department.
- Strengthen the culture of safety and empower staff to ‘Stop the Line.’
The province said it has discussed some form of compensation, but wouldn’t comment on specific details.
Nyee said he is in discussion with a lawyer over possible legal action but is more interested in preventing similar situations in the future.
Along with the SHA’s investigation, the province also plans on conducting a coroner’s inquest. No date or location has been given in regards to the inquest.
SHA’s recollection of Uko’s first visit to the Regina General Hospital
On his first visit, Uko told staff he had increased depressive thoughts and problems sleeping following a car crash on June 3, 2019, in which he and his uncle were rear-ended. He said he had been dealing with chronic pain in his neck and shoulders ever since.
He said he was depressed, but denied thoughts of self-harm. He was then assessed by a physician and was referred to a mental health clinic for a followup.
He was also prescribed 30 7.5-mg tabs of Zopiclone to be taken twice a day to help him sleep.
A mental health clinic intake worker contacted Uko by phone at 1 p.m. that day. He told the worker he had not filled his prescription.
Following further assessment, the worker referred Uko to a psychiatrist at the Elphinstone Medical Clinic in which a meeting was to take place within a one-week period.
Uko was also instructed to contact the Community Outreach and Support Team or revisit the hospital’s emergency department if his condition worsened.
Although he told the worker he had previously considered hanging himself about a year ago, the worker did not determine any current symptoms of psychosis or mania. He said he had been depressed for at least four years.
Uko said he came to Regina from B.C. with hopes to play for the University of Regina Rams.
SHA’s recollection of Uko’s second visit to the Regina General Hospital
At about 5:45 p.m. on May 21, Uko was taken to the hospital by police, following multiple phone calls to 911. It was his second trip to the hospital that day.
The SHA’s review said Uko was brought in as a voluntary patient, meaning he was not considered to be in police custody under Section 20 of the Mental Health Services Act.
Uko was seated in a waiting chair. While waiting, he posted a video of himself on Snapchat stating, “I need help.”
Despite Uko’s refusal to give his name to staff, police or security, the registration clerk believed to have recognized the young man from his first visit.
The clerk presented his morning chart to Uko, in hopes to have him confirm that it was the same person. The SHA’s report said he refused to validate that information.
Thirty minutes after bringing Uko to the hospital, police left. Ten minutes after police left, Uko was removed from the building because he would not reveal his identity and because of concerns over COVID-19.
Uko was taken outside by four security guards at about 6:30 p.m. Facility video footage shows Uko calling, “I need help, I need help, I have mental health issues.”
Less than two hours later, EMS responded to a call for assistance regarding a water rescue in Wascana Lake. EMS pronounced Uko dead at 9:20 p.m.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, please reach out. Resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.