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Staff didn't believe Sinclair was dead at first, thought it was a joke

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At first nursing staff at the Health Sciences Centre thought he was joking.

So, hospital security coordinator operation Gary Francis testified today, he became persistent in saying that Brian Sinclair was indeed dead.

One of the nurses then went over to Sinclair, slumped head down in his wheelchair, to check his pulse.

Within seconds Sinclair was whisked from the waiting room for immediate medical care, but within a few minutes he was pronounced dead.

It was the only medical care the 45-year-old amputee received after first arriving by cab at the ER 34 hours earlier.

Francis testified he checked Sinclair a short time earlier after he was alerted to his condition by a woman, a nurse at another facility who was in the waiting room. She is expected to testify at the inquest at a later date.

Francis said the woman told him that she believed Sinclair was dead as his catheter tube was disconnected and that the back of his neck was a "pasty white colour."

At first Francis brushed off her concern, telling her that that was the way Sinclair slept when intoxicated. There has been no evidence that Sinclair, a long-time solvent abuser, was intoxicated.

She was also persistent, so Francis walked up behind Sinclair and firmly tapped his shoulder to wake him up.

There was no reaction.

Francis testified he next pinched Sinclair’s shoulder to get a reaction.

Nothing.

Francis then tried to tilt Sinclair’s head back.

It was stiff, so Francis said he pushed harder.

"His eyes were completely black and his face was pale," Francis said he later wrote in a report a day after Sinclair’s death Sept. 20, 2008.

The inquest has already heard Sinclair was sent to the hospital in a cab by a local medical clinic with a note saying he had a blocked catheter and suspected bladder infection, a condition that was treatable.

Provincial court Judge Tim Preston is looking into the circumstances of why Sinclair ended up spending 34 hours in the ER waiting room without being treated. The inquest's first phase is to end this week and continue in October with members of the public who had direct contact with Sinclair in the waiting room.

The inquest also heard this morning from HSC security guard Edward Latour, who is now retired.

Latour testified he spoke to a triage nurse about Sinclair after Latour spotted Sinclair in the waiting room, in the same position, two nights in row.

Latour said Sinclair was essentially in the same spot in the waiting room as he was the night before.

"I was concerned Mr. Sinclair was still in the waiting room," Latour told Preston.

Latour said the nurse told him that Sinclair had been the treated the day before, released, and had returned to the ER feeling ill.

"She just explained to me he had been there, he had been released and had returned," he said.

Latour said he accepted that explanation and continued on his rounds.

Under cross examination by Garth Smorang, the lawyer for MB Nurses' Union, Latour said it was possible that the nurse in question was referring to some patients in general, and not specifically about Sinclair.

However, Latour disagreed with a suggestion by Smorang that the lighting in the ER was poor.

The inquest will hear evidence at a later date that the HSC ER waiting room’s layout and triage protocol has changed since Sinclair's death.

History

Updated on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 7:21 PM CDT: Corrects typos.

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