Statement on Behalf of a Client
For immediate release: January 9, 2024
The following statement can be attributed to Melvin Fletcher Jr. and Melissa Fletcher, surviving family members of the late Hermina Fletcher, who died at La Verendrye Hospital in Fort Frances due to the actions of former nurse Lindsey Coyle:
“On January 4, we were shocked and disturbed to see a full-page advertisement in the Fort Frances Times Daily Bulletin from Riverside Health Care Facilities Inc. concerning events surrounding the death of our mother and grandmother, Hermina Fletcher, in 2015.
“This ad, which was formatted as a press release, was printed and distributed to the entire community on the anniversary of Hermina’s murder. This was deeply offensive and distressing, particularly on a date which continues to cause pain and trauma to our family. This year is especially difficult, as we await the criminal sentencing of Ms. Coyle later this month.
“What should trouble everyone in the community is that Riverside’s ad makes several statements which appear to be attempts to discredit concerns that have been raised based on the facts accepted by the court in Ms. Coyle’s criminal prosecution.
“Riverside’s ad states that it has “become aware of inaccurate and false public statements related to these events” and that “there have been anonymous messages and social media postings suggesting that at least one [other] person at Riverside ... was aware of issues relating to the theft of narcotics”. The hospital's ad goes on to state that “there is absolutely no truth to these suggestions or allegations and these false statements are seemingly intended to undermine confidence in Riverside”.
“Riverside has not shared with us what statements, messages, or posts it is referring to, or which statements are false. As the victims of this misconduct, we can only assume that this advertisement is somehow in reference to our concerns, some of which have been expressed publicly through counsel. We know many of our concerns are shared by others in the community.
“Riverside’s comments suggest that the events of Hermina’s death were an isolated incident. However, we remind the community that Ms. Coyle’s guilty plea on August 29, 2022 included her consent to a statement of facts that included admissions that she had been stealing drugs from the hospital for a longer period of time than Hermina’s hospitalization, and was often high from using drugs while she was at work and directly responsible for patient care.
“At the sentencing hearing on August 28, 2023, it was indicated that Ms. Coyle had not only modified patient drug prescriptions, but had taken out drugs under the names of patients that did not exist. When Ms. Coyle herself addressed the court, she referred to all of the families (plural) impacted by her actions.
"All of these comments on the public record, in court, point to the possibility that other patients and families may have been impacted by her actions."
The following statement can be attributed to Douglas W. Judson of Judson Howie LLP, legal counsel to Melvin Fletcher Jr. and Melissa Fletcher:
“It is unclear what has prompted Riverside to break its silence after 9 years. Our clients welcome actual transparency, but they are troubled that rather than making itself available to the press to be questioned about these important patient safety issues, Riverside has chosen to print a news release in the form of an advertisement. This is misleading, as it portrays the hospital’s corporate statements as journalistic in nature, which they are not.”
“If Riverside stands by these statements, we encourage it to write to the Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones, and support our clients’ request that she appoint an investigator to address these issues and report publicly. The Minister has the power to investigate this matter under the Public Hospitals Act.
“An investigation is the only way to restore the public confidence that has been damaged by the revelations from the Coyle criminal proceeding. So far, it appears that the Minister is entirely unconcerned about a vulnerable, elderly patient being killed in a public hospital by a licensed health care provider. She has ignored our clients’ letter for over 4 months.
“We have requested the assistance of Kenora—Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford as it is unclear why the Minister is disrespecting these victims and those in our community who share their concerns.”
Questions and requests will only be addressed through the contact identified below.
Douglas W. Judson