Montreal hospital in homicide case defends security

The chief of psychiatry at the Notre-Dame Hospital in Montreal, where two patients were killed and one attacked between June 16 and 22, says security measures were on par with the ward's needs.

Paul Lespérance at a news conference Thursday expressed his "profound sadness" and and said he believes the events are affecting the public's perception of mental health issues.

"These events project a negative image of psychiatry in a hospital setting. We have fought the stigmatization faced by our patients. We worked hard to promote the importance of social investment. These events come at a time when we thought we had managed to help people understand."

Notre-Dame Hospital cares for patients of varying ages and care levels.

Montreal police arrested a 31-year-old man, also a patient at the hospital, while investigating the attempted suffocation of a 71-year-old female patient in the psychiatric ward Friday.

Police say the "modus operandi" in two homicides and an attempted suffocation in a psychiatric ward of a Montreal hospital appear to be the same, but they have to wait for the results of DNA testing before making a definitive link.

Lespérance was not able to confirm which floors the suspect or the victims were located on at the time of the two events.

"As we were there, authorities from the hospital came forward to police and said they had two suspicious deaths where both patients might have passed away from suffocation also," said Const. Yannick Ouimet.

Police released information about those incidents yesterday. They said they are looking for connections between the suspect and the two other deaths, which happened in separate incidents on June 16 and 21.

"We are waiting on results from analysis that was done to try and link this suspect to the two other cases," Ouimet said.

A hospital spokesperson said the deaths were initially considered not suspicious, but could not disclose further details as to why that determination was made.

The male victims, aged 69 and 77, have not been identified publicly, Ouimet said, because police have not informed all of their family members that their deaths are now being investigated as homicides.

The hospital is conducting its own investigation into the deaths and the attack on the patient.

Notre-Dame contacted all of the families of people still hospitalized in the facility to advise them of the incidents, Yvan Gendron, the hospital's associate director general, said Thursday.

He said psychological support is also being offered to hospital staff and patients.

"We're extremely saddened by these events that have touched vulnerable people and their families," he said.

He added that the hospital has rigorous measures in place to ensure patient safety, but they will be reviewed to determine if improvements can be made.

Idelson Guerrier was arrested on charges related to attempted murder. He has not been charged in connection with the deaths.

The accused is now undergoing a 30-day, court-ordered psychological evaluation and will make another court appearance next month.

Ouimet said police are still investigating to determine if further charges will be laid.

The CHUM released information on the arrest and the double homicides 11 days after the first death.

Hospital executives say they did not try to cover the affair, but say that the case had to be investigated by police. It is only when authorities determined the two deaths were homicides that the information was released.

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