Fletcher Family Speaks Out: Seeking Justice and Clarity in the Wake of a Tragic Loss

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FORT FRANCES – Former La Verendrye Hospital nurse Lindsey Coyle was sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment by the Ontario Court of Justice today. This sentence is a culmination of a nine-year-long struggle for the Fletcher family, following the tragic death of Hermina Fletcher, an elderly patient under Coyle’s care.

Family’s Reaction to the Sentence: Melvin Fletcher Jr. and Melissa Fletcher, the son and granddaughter of the late Hermina Fletcher, expressed their mixed emotions in a statement. They acknowledged the prolonged and traumatic process that finally led to this day of reckoning. Despite the long wait and numerous delays, the family appreciated the court’s recognition of the severity of Coyle’s actions.

“This prosecution has been a long and difficult journey for our family. Our mother and grandmother died as a result of Ms. Coyle’s actions while she was supposed to be caring for her in the hospital.

“It has been over 9 years since Hermina’s death, and 4 years since Ms. Coyle was criminally charged. There have been numerous delays, which has contributed to the trauma of our family.

“We appreciate that Justice Joubert recognized the gravity of Ms. Coyle’s actions, the numerous aggravating factors which called for her imprisonment, and the need for this sentence to serve as public denunciation of her actions and deterrence of such grave and irresponsible misconduct by a licensed healthcare professional.

“We also appreciated hearing in court today that His Honour recognized the broader public and community concerns that this case has raised about the safety of vulnerable persons in our local hospital. We are anticipating his written reasons, which are expected to be released on February 8. “We want to thank the community for their support and concern throughout this difficult ordeal.”

Counsel’s Statement on Ongoing Concerns: Douglas W. Judson, the counsel for the Fletcher family, highlighted their continued efforts to seek clarity over Hermina’s death and the professional misconduct of Ms. Coyle. The criminal proceedings have raised suspicions of possible other victims during Coyle’s tenure as a nurse. The family’s quest for truth and accountability extends beyond this case.

“Our clients have now repeatedly called for improved clarity around the circumstances surrounding Hermina’s death, and specifically the extent of Ms. Coyle’s professional misconduct. As we have pointed out since August 2022, this criminal proceeding has pointed to the possibility that there were other victims targeted over a longer period of time than Hermina’s hospitalization.

“Instead of providing that clarity, Riverside Health Care – which administers La Verendrye Hospital – has chosen this month to run a weeks-long advertising campaign suggesting that public statements expressing these concerns are without merit, while also declining to specify which public statement are, in their view, false.

“Likewise, Minister of Health Sylvia Jones, in denying our clients’ request for an investigation last week, has suggested that there are ongoing investigations by the police, coroner, or others. Our clients have no knowledge of any such investigations, now almost a decade after Ms. Coyle’s employment as a nurse was ended.

“It is unclear why neither the Minister of Health or the hospital can simply come out and confirm that, if the care of other patients was impacted, that those patients or their families were notified. The messages we are seeing seem to be directed at controlling liability at the expense of public confidence in local health care.”

Lack of Clarity from Health Authorities: Amidst these proceedings, Riverside Health Care and the Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones, have been criticized by the Fletcher family for their lack of transparency.

The family’s requests for a thorough investigation have been met with vague responses, exacerbating their concerns about the safety of patients in the healthcare system and undermining public confidence.

Continuing the Legal Battle: The journey for justice is far from over for the Fletcher family. The ongoing civil proceeding against Ms. Coyle, brought by the estate of Mrs. Fletcher and her surviving family, is expected to conclude early this year.

This case continues to highlight critical issues of patient safety and accountability in the healthcare sector.

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