The family of a Montreal woman who was found dead on the floor of a room in the ER at Lakeshore General Hospital on Montreal's West Island two months ago is asking Premier François Legault to personally intervene in the case to help them get answers.
At a virtual news conference Thursday, family members said they've heard next to nothing from both the hospital and the coroner's office since the death of their mother, Candida Macarine.
"We've been waiting for a phone call, a letter, or an email that never came," Macarine's daughter, Gilda, said.
"This silence is very disturbing. My mother cannot rest in peace until we get the answers," she added.
Candida Macarine died Feb. 27, a few hours after being admitted to the hospital. She was found dead on the floor of a negative pressure room. Nurses had warned managers several times that it was next-to-impossible to see a patient in the room.
Macarine's family was never told that she was found dead and alone on the floor. Staff at the hospital only told them their mother died of cardiac arrest.
It wasn't until they noticed a CBC News story two weeks later about a woman found "dead and ice cold" on the floor beside her bed that they realized that woman was their mother.
It wasn't until March 23, a month after Macarine died, that the hospital finally admitted its communications with the family were "incomplete" and apologized.
Family begs premier for help
At that time, the hospital asked the coroner's office to investigate, and said it had already launched an internal investigation into what happened.
The family says, since then, they've had no contact from either the hospital or the coroner's office.
"We're calling on Premier Legault to help our family get the answers. We believe that he has compassion and he understands ordinary families," Gilda Macarine told the news conference.
"I'm begging you Mr. Legault," she added, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Coroner's office, health agency say they're open to talking
Jake Lamotta-Granato, a spokesperson for the Quebec Coroner's office, emailed CBC a statement.
"An investigation has been well underway into the death of Mrs. Candida Macarine since the notification of the death to the Coroner's Office at the end of March," Lamotta-Granato said.
He said generally coroners keep families up to date on major developments in investigations, and he urged the Macarine family to get in touch if they had questions.
The Macarine family said they sent a letter to Quebec's chief coroner last week and haven't heard back.
Annie Charbonneau, a spokesperson for the CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, the health agency that governs Lakeshore General Hospital, also emailed a statement to CBC.
"We reiterate our wish to first meet the family to build bridges with them. The coroner's inquest is underway. We are actively participating in it," Charbonneau said.
The head of the CIUSSS, Lynne McVey, offered to meet with the Macarine family last month.
They refused, saying they no longer trusted the CIUSSS.
Gilda Macarine said Thursday that the family was offered a 30-minute meeting with McVey.
"What can you do for that 30-minute meeting? Just to say hi, hello, how are you and sit down? For me, it's not enough," she said.
Glida Macarine and her brother Emmanuel both say they're haunted by their mother's death.
Emmanuel is currently staying at the condo where his mother lived.
"I can't sleep. I stay up until 3:00 in the morning just thinking about it. Everywhere I look, it's my mom. I see my mom," he said.
Gilda Macarine is herself a nurse. She said when she cares for elderly patients, she can't help but think of her mother.
"It's so heavy in my heart every time I go to work," she said.
"These people we are taking care of them, feeding them, cleaning them, and then I always look back to my mother," she said.
"My mom died because nobody took care of her in their hospital," she said.
Feb. 26: Candida Macarine is admitted to Lakeshore General Hospital suffering from breathing problems.
Feb. 27: Macarine is found "dead and ice cold" on the floor of a negative pressure room in the ER. Hospital staff only tell the Macarine family she died of cardiac arrest, and don't mention the other circumstances surrounding her death.
March 9: The day of Candida Macarine's funeral, Health Minister Christian Dubé offers condolences and says the ministry will monitor the situation; the family goes to the hospital after the funeral to try to get answers.
April 22: Family holds news conference asking premier Francois Legault to intervene, saying they've heard nothing from coroner's office or CIUSSS for a month