The family of a woman who was found dead beside her bed at Lakeshore General Hospital last month is accusing the hospital of racism and demanding a coroner's investigation.
Candida Macarine died Feb. 27 in a negative pressure isolation room in the hospital's emergency room that nurses had warned managers about several times, saying it was difficult to see and monitor patients there.
The day of her death, Macarine's family was told only that she died of cardiac arrest. They say they accepted that and were at peace with it.
It wasn't until they noticed the CBC story about a woman found "dead and ice cold" on the floor beside her bed that they realized that woman was likely their mother.
"The worst and most devastating thing was that we were only guessing and analyzing from the news that this was our mother," Placido Macarine, Candida's son, said during an online news conference Monday.
"This is clearly for me racial discrimination. This is racism," Placido Macarine continued.
The hospital has refused to confirm to CBC and to the family if Macarine was the woman found on the floor, although a source who works at the hospital told CBC the dates and times of Macarine's death line up with the circumstances reported.
'Abandoned and neglected'
Three of Macarine's eight surviving children spoke during Monday's news conference. They described a loving mother and grandmother who was an avid churchgoer and supporter of Montreal's Filipino community.
They said they've heard nothing from the Pointe-Claire hospital or the local heath agency about how Macarine died.
"From February 27 until today March 22, nothing was done — not a single word of explanation nor apology," Placido Macarine said.
"Is it because we are Asians that they just put us aside as not worthy of their attention?" he asked.
"My mom was abandoned and neglected," Candida Macarine's daughter Gilda, herself a nurse, told the news conference, her voice breaking and her eyes welling with tears.
Pattern of racism in health care system?
Fo Niemi, director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, which is helping the family, said Macarine's death seems to be part of a pattern in Quebec of women of colour being mistreated in the health care system. He cited the cases of Joyce Echaquan and Mireille Ndjomouo.
"We must also ask whether and how race has been a factor in Ms. Macarine's death, and in the way the family has been treated to this day," Niemi said.
The West Island health agency, the CIUSSS de l'Ouest de l'Île de Montréal, told CBC is it taking the situation seriously and has launched an internal investigation. It offered its condolences to the family and says it is in "close contact" with them.
The family is asking the Quebec coroner's office to conduct a separate investigation.
"We don't think the family can trust any information coming out from the hospital anymore," Niemi said.
A spokesperson for the coroner's office told CBC Monday that a coroner wanted to get in touch with the family to get more information.