Quebec hospital trains nurses, creates new position after man developed fatal bedsore

Quebec’s Laurentian health authority is putting in place corrective measures in the Saint-Jérôme hospital weeks after the death of Normand Meunier, who developed a severe bedsore during his four-day hospital stay in January.

The 66-year-old quadriplegic Quebec man chose assisted dying in March after developing the horrific pressure sore — where bone and muscle were exposed.

He and his partner had asked staff for a special alternating pressure mattress that didn’t arrive in time.

Since the incident, Steve Desjardins, director of nursing at the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) des Laurentides, said the hospital has been working on skill-development for wound care nurses.

“In concrete terms, we are training 26 resource nurses in our various units at the Saint-Jérôme Hospital,” said Desjardins.

He says the goal is to ensure enough nurses have the necessary knowledge, given the staff turnover rate and how many move from one department to another.

He says a position in specialized intervention in physical disabilities was also created last week.

Steve Desjardins says among the new measures, the hospital is training 26 nurses to help prevent similar situations from occuring in the Saint-Jérôme hospital. (Radio-Canada)

“This person will be able to support the teams, because obviously these are situations in which the teams are less accustomed to intervening. So, [the fact] of having someone who is more specialized in this area, well, that can help us better adapt our interventions,” said Desjardins.

A review of adapted mattresses availability and hospitalization criteria is also on the table, to prioritize people at risk of prolonged stays in the emergency department.

“We’re in the process of analyzing our stock of therapeutic surfaces and, above all, whether we can do a better job of making these tools [available to] those who need them,” said Desjardins.

Internal investigation continues

Walter Zelaya is critical of the measures put forward by the hospital.

The executive director of disability advocacy group Moëlle Épinière et Motricité Québec says it seems like the health authority is “trying to put a lid on things.”

“We are trying to discover what’s behind it,” said Zelaya.

“Someone died and we believe the CISSS has a responsibility,” said Zelaya. “As an [organization], we have the right to know what happened.”

The Laurentian health authority confirmed that the internal investigation is not yet complete, and that the office of the service quality and complaints commissioner has retained one complaint related to this situation. It has managed 39 complaints and interventions related to bedsores over the past three years.

‘Still have work to do,’ says premier

The news about Normand Meunier was a topic of discussion in the National Assembly, prompting Premier François Legault to offer his condolences to the family.

A man gets his tears whiped
Normand Meunier developed a painful bedsore after spending four days on an ER stretcher. (Ivanoh Demers/CBC)

“Of course we still have work to do in the health-care network, it’s not simple,” said Legault.

“We’re short of staff, so we’ve quickly trained orderlies [and] we’re trying to get more flexibility from the nurses’ union to be able to move nurses to where they’re needed most.”

Legault also criticized previous governments’ management of the health network.

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