Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bystanders quickly saw Sinclair in need of help

'Obviously distressed' 21 hours after arrival

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Brian Sinclair was surrounded by medical staff as he sat for 34 hours in Health Sciences Centre's emergency department waiting room seeking treatment that never came.

It took two ordinary citizens just minutes to realize Sinclair needed help.

David and Evelyn Grant told an inquest looking into Sinclair's death they were sitting in the hospital's emergency waiting room waiting for a family member to be treated when the double amputee rolled up beside them in his wheelchair just before noon Sept. 20, 2008.

The inquest has been told that was about 21 hours after Sinclair arrived at the emergency.

David Grant, who was watching a Toronto Blue Jays game on the room's television, said he could tell right away Sinclair "was obviously distressed."

"He was fidgeting and rolling back and forth in his wheelchair... I thought he was blind because he didn't seem to focus on anything.

"His eyes looked essentially glazed over."

The couple testified that a while later Sinclair suddenly threw up.

"There were shootings-out of vomit," Evelyn Grant said.

"I didn't notice him before that."

But worried there was now so much "clear green bile" on the floor somebody could slip and hurt themselves, Evelyn told her husband to get help.

David said he headed to the far side of the waiting room from where they were -- near the entrance where desks for both the triage nurses and security guards were -- but made the choice to tell security because of his experience that the nursing desk was busy.

"I said 'My buddy is having a problem out here. He's sick. Can you do something about it?' " David Grant said under questioning by inquest lawyer David Frayer, adding the guard brought over a small, kidney-shaped basin.

David said about an hour later, Sinclair threw up again.

"He didn't even try to contain it," he said.

"He just spewed all over the place. That's why I thought he was blind," he added, saying it didn't look as if Sinclair even tried aiming for the basin on his lap.

Once again, David went to the security desk, this time resulting in a housekeeper coming to clean up the mess and put a larger bowl in front of Sinclair.

Not long after, almost four hours after they arrived, the couple left the hospital with their family member while Sinclair continued to wait.

David said they didn't know Sinclair, they just wanted to help when they saw a need.

"I was just being his advocate because he didn't have anyone with him," David said.

"I was his buddy for the moment."

Later, Murray Trachtenberg, one of the lawyers for the Sinclair family, took the opportunity to tell David on their behalf "thank you for thinking of yourself as Mr. Sinclair's advocate."

Sinclair, 45, died of a treatable bladder infection caused by a blocked urinary catheter.

The inquest has been told Sinclair waited 34 hours in the emergency waiting room and had been dead up to seven hours before other patients notified security officers.

Meanwhile, an emergency room doctor tried to revive Sinclair until realizing the man had been dead for hours.

Dr. Travis Minish, a HSC emergency doctor, said Sinclair was rushed into the department's resuscitation room shortly after midnight Sept. 21.

But Minish said the normal procedure changed when he realized he couldn't insert a breathing tube into the man's mouth.

"His jaw was clenched close," he said.

"I felt the patient's chest with my hand and the chest felt cool."

Minish said when they checked the rest of Sinclair's body they saw signs of blood pooling in his lower areas as well as signs of rigor mortis.

"That's when we realized Mr. Sinclair had been dead for some period of time. We stopped working on him. He had been dead for at least hours."

The inquest continues next week.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 18, 2013 B3

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