McGill University Health Centre has released the results of its internal investigation into why a 44-year-old Mi’kmaq woman left the hospital, and later died, after being told she would need to pay for treatment.
Kimberly Gloade of Burnt Church First Nation in New Brunswick left the Montreal hospital Feb. 7 2016 after she was told that treatment would cost more than $1,000 because she didn’t have a health card.
She died six weeks later of heart failure and cirrhosis of the liver.
Due to the passage of time and the amount of registration clerks working that night, the hospital says they were not been able to track down the person who saw Gloade after triage.
Nonetheless, they’ve since implemented changes.
Now every registration clerk must follow the same script when dealing with a patient who has no health card.
“The patient is told, ‘we want you to be seen, and in fact you really think that you’re going to leave, I want you to see the triage nurse again to see if that decision is a safe one,'” said Dr. Ewa Sidorowiez, the hospital’s director of professional services.
Meaning people will only be allowed to leave if their situation isn’t critical.
The investigation was undertaken after a scathing coroner’s report last summer. Coroner Jacques Ramsey said that while Gloade’s cirrhosis was too advanced to be treated, she was denied “the minimal accompaniment that decency requires in the face of death from a society worthy of its name.”
The incident in question happened when Gloade was brought to the hospital by ambulance.
She was suffering from severe stomach pain and had recently had her health card stolen along with her purse.
“They should’ve helped my niece. They should’ve helped my niece, she was very sick,” said Jason Barnaby, a spokesperson for Gloade’s family.
Gloade struggled with addiction, but according to her family was known as “Mama Kim” for always looking after others.
Barnaby provided APTN News photos of the last Christmas he spent with her.
“There was one stocking with a question mark on it. I asked Kim, whose stocking is this? She said ‘for someone that may drop in that has no Christmas’. Touched my heart to see. Kim did not have much but whatever she had, she would be so happy to give,” said Barnaby.
He suspects that Gloade was the victim of discrimination, but the hospital says that is not the case.
“In our investigation, I don’t think that was part of the issue at all,” said Sidorowicz, who emphasizes that the hospital deals routinely with people lacking medical coverage and that Gloade was an exception with tragic consequences.
“We certainly extend our sympathies to the family, because this was a very sad event that occurred,” said Sidorowicz.
For his part, Barnaby takes little comfort in the actions taken since Gloade’s death.
“My niece had to die before McGill university implemented these new programs,” said Barnaby, as his voice trembled. “We loved Kim very much, and it still hurts to talk about it.”