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AMC wants a role in investigation into death of Ebb and Flow First Nation COVID-19 patient

·3 min read

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) say they want answers after an Indigenous woman died last month from COVID-19 just moments before she was to be airlifted out of province for care, and they want First Nations representatives involved in any investigation of the incident.

Krystal Mousseau, a 31-year old mother of two from the Ebb and Flow First Nation, died on May 25 during an attempt to transport her from Brandon to Ottawa to receive care for COVID-19.

One day after Mousseau died, Shared Health confirmed that a patient, who was later confirmed to be Mousseau, had “destabilized” prior to takeoff and had to be returned to the ICU in Brandon by the critical care transport team.

In a statement sent to the Winnipeg Sun on Tuesday, a Shared Health spokesperson said an investigation into the death of Mousseau continues, while another separate investigation is being conducted by the company that was contracted to fly her out of province.

“Shared Health and Prairie Mountain Health are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the care of a COVID patient who died on May 25.” the spokesperson said. “The case has been declared a critical incident. The investigation is ongoing.

“A separate internal review of the case by the involved contracted flight company will also be conducted. Shared Health will remain involved in this review as the provincial entity responsible for Emergency Response Services, including contracted services.”

In a statement released last Friday AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said that AMC now hopes for a thorough investigation into the death, and one that will include “a seat at the table” for First Nations representation.

“Along with the family, the AMC will also be seeking answers to many questions, including determining the impact of contracted air transport on First Nations patients during the pandemic, and to seek to understand and confirm the underlying factors that led to COVID-19 patients being airlifted to other provinces for critical care treatment,” Dumas said.

“We hope this investigation will bring about recommendations that can prevent future tragedies and deaths of, not only First Nations citizens but all Manitobans.

“I am calling on Shared Health and the Prairie Mountain Health Authority to provide a seat for First Nations at the table and for a role in its investigation.”

A Shared Health spokesperson confirmed in an email to the Winnipeg Sun on Tuesday that since May 18, a total of 57 critically ill COVID-19 patients had been transported out of province for care, including 53 patients sent to Ontario, two to Alberta and two to Saskatchewan.

The spokesperson said 10 COVID patients who have been transported out of province for care have died, and as of Tuesday 14 COVID patients from Manitoba were currently being treated out of province, including 13 patients in Ontario and one in Alberta.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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