A family is calling for a coroner’s inquest into the death of their mother of 11 who died under questionable circumstances at the Lakeshore Hospital in late February.
The family is being supported by the Centre for Action on Race-Relations (CRARR), a Montreal-based civil rights group.
Candida Macarine, 86, is being remembered as a devoted mother who was close to her 11 children.
“Together with our dad, our mother raised us and sent us to school to give us a good education in spite of our poverty,” said her son, Placido Macarine.
But her children say they can’t come to terms with the lack of details surrounding her death.
On Feb. 27, Macarine died at the Lakeshore Hospital after being admitted with respiratory problems. The family was told she died of cardiac arrest.
“When I heard this, I accepted it without malice because I know that my mom has medical issues that may lead to cardiac arrest,” said daughter Criselda Macarine.
That changed when the family saw a news report stating that a woman their mother’s age was found dead inside one of the hospital’s negative-pressure rooms, and that staff had flagged the room as problematic due to the difficulty monitoring it.
The family says they connected the dots and tried to get answers from the hospital.
“Since Feb. 27 to March 22, nothing was done. Not a single word of explanation. Not a word of apology. Is it because we are Asians they just put us aside and not worthy of their attention?” asked Placido Macarine.
The nurses union say they are aware of the incident, but won’t comment on the specifics.
A spokesperson confirmed to Global News they had flagged such issues with the room along with other concerns and say this serves as a reminder to their employer that there are serious problems at the Lakeshore Hospital.
“Why hide things from us, is there a cover up? Was there criminal negligence? Who is responsible? We demand transparency,” said Criselda Macarine.
The family says they were told by the hospital that an investigation was underway but they’d like to see more – including a coroner’s inquest.
“Without answers and revelation of truth from the coroner’s investigation, I personally will never be at peace,” said Placido Macarine.
The family wants to make sure that their mother was not neglected because of her race and that if anyone’s responsible for her death, that they’re held accountable.
“A coroner’s inquiry of any kind would be helpful, credibly and possibly much more useful. We don’t think right now the family can trust any information coming from the hospital anymore,” said Niemi, CRARR’s executive director.
“This is not the first time that in recent months we’ve heard that a person, whether a woman of colour or Indigenous woman going to the hospital and dying in very questionable or unacceptable circumstances.”
Last September, Joyce Echaquan, an Indigenous woman, died in a Quebec hospital after filming staff insulting her.
In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for the regional health authority says they take the matter seriously.
“As is the case for every event (incident or accident) that is flagged to us, a continuous analysis and improvement process is launched and is currently in place,” wrote Hélène Bergeron-Gamache, spokesperson for the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal.
Bergeron-Gamache says they are committed to communicating with the family once their internal investigation has concluded.
“We confirm that we are in close contact with the family. We remain available et offer them our support during these trying times.”