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The Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton. Image: Submitted/Horizon Health Network

Coroner’s inquest into ER waiting room death postponed

By Brad Perry May 26, 2023 | 1:30 PM

The coroner’s inquest into the death of a patient waiting for care in a New Brunswick emergency department has been postponed.

Donald Darrell Mesheau died in the emergency department waiting room at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton last July.

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that an inquest would take place from May 29 to June 2.

But on Friday, officials said the inquest had been postponed while Coroner Services examines new information brought forward this week.

“As per the Coroners Act, an inquest cannot go forward while a death is still being investigated,” chief coroner Heather Brander said in a news release.

“We understand how difficult this is for Mr. Mesheau’s family and the inquest will be rescheduled as soon as possible.”

Brander said no further information would be released at this time, citing the active investigation.

Mesheau’s death, and the public outcry that followed, led to a major shakeup within the province’s healthcare system.

Three days later, the premier replaced Dorothy Shephard as health minister, fired Dr. John Dornan as president and CEO of Horizon Health, and dumped the boards of the regional health authorities.

“I’m prepared to do whatever is necessary to protect and improve the health care system in our province,” Premier Blaine Higgs said at the time.

“I have no doubt that every New Brunswicker and all of our healthcare workers are saddened and concerned by this story. We all want to know that when we go to the hospital, we will receive the help we need.”

RELATED: Man Dies While In Emergency Department Waiting Room

Witness John Staples was in the emergency room on the night in question and recalled seeing a man in a wheelchair for several hours “in obvious discomfort.”

Staples said the man “seemed to go to sleep” and was later checked on by an ER attendant, who noticed he had stopped breathing.

“I looked at the gentleman and noticed that there was no rise and fall of the chest and abdomen, so I knew at that point he had passed,” Staples said in an interview in the days following the man’s death.

Staples shared the story on social media in hopes of raising awareness of the struggles in the province’s health care system.


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