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Attorney General denies responsibility in the death of Veronica Park


TRURO, N.S. - The Attorney General of Canada says the health and mental health care Veronica Park received during her stay at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro was competent, and reasonable and met recognized provincial standards.

TC Media file photo

Veronica Park is seen in this 2014 file photo.

That statement is contained in an 11-page statement of defence filed by the Crown entity with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in Truro on Sept. 21.

Park died in hospital in Nova Scotia on April 24, 2015 while serving a three-year sentence at the correctional facility for robbing an 82-year-old woman in 2014. The Corner Brook woman was 38.

Her family is suing the Attorney General for more than $2 million. In a statement of a fact filed in April the family claims the defendant failed to provide essential health care to Ms. Park and aggravated her mental health condition.

The family states that her death was preventable and the defendant’s negligence caused her death by failing to provide timely health-care intervention. And they claim she was falsely imprisoned at times by being confined in segregation. 

While the attorney general agrees with some of the specifics of the case in terms of Park’s detention, her conduct while at Nova and visits to the prison’s health centre, it challenges the family to provide “strict proof” of other allegations.  

For example the family claims her cause of death is bronchopneumonia. But the Crown says it has no knowledge of post mortem disclosure that Park’s cause of death was acute necrotizing bronchopneumonia.

The Crown also claims “that any injuries or loss, which are not admitted but specifically denied, are a result of Veronica Park’s own negligence.” It says she was suspected of being involved in the institutional pill-trade and was hospitalized in August 2015 after having an adverse reaction to ingesting medication that was not prescribed to her.

Park had been placed in segregation on numerous occasions and spent some time classified as a maximum-security offender.

The case will be heard in Truro.

Timeline

April 4, 2015 — Visits the Nova Health Services clinic, seen twice by a nurse

April 5, 2015 — Visits the Nova Health Services clinic, seen twice by a nurse

April 6, 2015 — Visits the Nova Health Services clinic, seen once by a nurse

April 8, 2015 — Visits the Nova Health Services clinic, seen once by a physician

April 13, 2015 — Visits the Nova Health Services clinic, seen once by a nurse and once by a physician

April 20, 2015 — Visits the Nova Health Services clinic, seen once by a nurse

April 23, 2015 — Park goes to the clinic at approximately 4 p.m. The on-duty nurse recorded symptoms of a sore throat, cough and body aches for the previous two days. The nurse recorded that her vital signs were normal and her chest was clear. She was discharged and instructed to get rest, drink fluids and to return if her symptoms worsened.

April 23, 2015 —Park returns 7:40 p.m. with complaints of shortness of breath. The family says she also complained of the same symptoms she reported earlier, but the Crown denies that occurred. Again her vitals are recorded as normal and her lungs were said to be clear. Park is given a bronchodilator (a puffer).

April 24, 2015 — Park is observed in her room by Nova Institution for Women staff at 7 a.m. and between 7:10 and 7:15 a.m. Statement of defence says that on both occasions she did not appear to be in medical distress.

April 24, 2015 — Staff observe Park in distress during their rounds at 8:45 a.m.

April 24, 2015 — Park is transported to the emergency department at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre at 9:30 a.m. where she was treated with antibiotics and ventilation measures. An operative note states the overall appearance of Park’s condition was chemical pneumonitis difuse.

April 24, 2015 —Park died at 4:18 p.m. According to the family the post mortem disclosed the cause of death as acute necrotizing bronchopneumonia. The Crown says it has no knowledge of the post mortem disclosure.

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