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Melvin Fletcher Jr. (l) and Melissa Fletcher, the surviving son and granddaughter of Hermina Fletcher. Supplied courtesy Doug Judson.

Family members respond to Coyle sentencing

By Randy Thoms Jan 17, 2024 | 2:22 PM

The family of Hermina Fletcher is reacting to a court sentence handed to a former Fort Frances nurse.

Lindsay Coyle was sentenced on Tuesday to two years in jail for criminal negligence causing death related to the death of the Fletcher at LaVerendrye General Hospital in 2015.

The court was told Coyle admitted to falsifying medical records to steal medication for personal use.

Her actions led to Fletcher receiving a higher dose of morphine than expected.

In a statement issued through their lawyer, Fletcher’s son, Melvin Fletcher Jr. and her granddaughter, Melissa Fletcher, say the prosecution has been a long and difficult journey for the family.

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

They appreciate Justice Pieter Joubert’s decision.

“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,” the family states.

“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.”

Justice Joubert is expected to issue written reasons behind the sentencing next month.

The Fletcher family had asked Health Minister Sylvia Jones to investigate after testimony hinted toward the possibility of other victims.

Their lawyer, Doug Judson, says Jones denied their request last week.

Riverside Health Care also ran full-page newspaper ads before the sentencing, disputing what it called “inaccurate and false public statements” related to the case.

“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, 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,” says Judson.

Riverside indicates in its ads, “at the appropriate time, we contacted all those who were impacted by the theft of the narcotics.”

Meantime, a civil proceeding against Coyle brought upon by the Fletcher family continues.

Judson expects it to wrap up later this year.