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Nursing home investigation file moving slowly

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The investigation into possible abusive treatment of residents at the Estevan Regional Nursing Home is not moving ahead rapidly, but the wheels are in motion.

The allegations of abuse and/or neglect at ERNH were raised publicly by Maggie Dupuis, whose mother Mary Mack has been a resident at the nursing home since August of 2010.

The more serious allegations focused on her mother, but Dupuis has charged that other instances of neglect have been documented and members of other families are coming forward.

Dupuis said she recently received an e-mail from a quality care co-ordinator for the Sun Country Regional Health Authority, but she noted that they both agreed he would not be the best person to get involved since it would place him in a direct conflict-of-interest situation.

“Another name was suggested as someone who could take the file, but I don't believe he had any particular expertise in this type of investigation,” said Dupuis.

The Sun Country Health Region's interim chief exeecutive officer, Marga Cugnet told The Mercury on June 22 that an independent investigating officer is being sought and the health region is “exploring a list of candidates now ... someone who could do an independent investigation and we should have some names forwarded to us by next week.” She added that it would be someone from outside the local health region.

In the meantime Estevan police Chief Del Block confirmed that the Estevan Police Service “have received an official complaint from the family and we have opened a file.” Block also confirmed that a senior sergeant has been assigned to handle the file, at least in the early stages.

Cugnet said “the health region has made themselves available to the family and have contacted them and the family hasn't provided us with a meeting date yet.”

Dupuis replied that “they have the information. I would think it's up to them to do what they have to do and when they do it, I would expect it would be in an open manner. I don't want a closed door meeting.”

She said she expected that some discussions have already taken place among Sun Country, lawyers, union representatives and provincial representatives and if that were so, those sessions have probably occurred in private.

“I would expect the nursing home staff will have had a gag order placed on them by now,” she said.

Once her allegations made it into the public domain via The Mercury on June 6, Dupuis said she has received a lengthy message from a former employee who suggested that she was doing the right thing because “this is not just a one family thing.”

As the investigation unfolds, Dupuis said she hoped that her mother, who suffers from dementia but is not considered to be a difficult person, is not being compromised due to the family's actions.

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