Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rush to place violent Alzheimer's patient into care

Social worker left in dark, inquest told

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A rush by Winnipeg health officials to free a sometimes violent Alzheimer's patient from jail and into the care home where he caused a death saw usual pre-admission protocols jumbled and a social worker left in the dark about the man he was dealing with, a judicial inquest has heard.

Public hearings resumed Monday into the death of Frank Alexander, which happened at the hands of Joe McLeod at the Parkview Place care home on March 24, 2011.

Alexander, 87, died a few days after being shoved to the floor by McLeod, a fellow resident and Alzheimer's sufferer. McLeod was transferred to the care home from the Winnipeg Remand Centre, where he had been held for 30 days after assaulting his wife in September 2010.

The inquest has heard McLeod's aggressive behaviour at the care home escalated after he arrived and, months later, resulted in Alexander's fatal brain injury.

Former Parkview Place social worker Jeffrey Roos testified Monday he was one of three people tasked with doing a roughly hour-long pre-admission assessment of McLeod at a Winnipeg Regional Health Authority office in Transcona on Oct. 7, 2010 -- the day before he was admitted to Parkview Place.

Roos and the others were tasked with assessing McLeod to weigh how he might fare living at the care home.

The meeting with McLeod was, to some extent, a first for him, Roos said. McLeod was clad in orange prison garb, confined by shackles and cuffs and under escort by two correctional officers. He was aware McLeod was being held in jail for domestic violence through media reports, Roos said.

"I was told that he was actually doing quite well in remand," Roos said. "He presented as a confused, elderly gentleman with some sort of dementia."

"He seemed to be like an average client, for sure," said Roos. "My thought at the time was his care needs were relatively light," said Roos. "I remember feeling relatively confident our team could meet his needs."

Roos said his impression was long-term care officials at the WRHA were eager to see McLeod out of jail. "It felt definitely like... the (WRHA) wanted him to be out of the remand centre," he said. "We do take direction on priority from the region," he said. "I do remember it being pretty quick, for sure," Roos said of the time between McLeod's assessment and admission to Parkview Place by its management team.

"The decision was made by the team... we could proceed with the admission -- that's typically how these things roll out," Roos said.

Roos couldn't recall being provided with police reports about the criminal allegations McLeod was facing prior to interviewing him. As well, it wasn't until the day after meeting with him the WRHA faxed over documents about McLeod he would usually have access to beforehand.

The routine practice was to have those materials prior to doing an in-person assessment, Judge Michel Chartier heard.

Roos agreed the documents were "very important," but said they still may been reviewed by management prior to them giving McLeod's admission the nod. He still admitted it would have been good to have them prior to meeting McLeod. "Our wish is always to get as much information that we can," said Roos.

Alexander family lawyer Bill Gange presented an email authored on Oct. 7, 2010, by senior WRHA manager Real Cloutier. The email urges McLeod's assessment be done that day to arrange "emergency respite" for him. "This is an absolute priority," Cloutier's email states.

Roos could not recall any steps being taken by the Parkview Place management team to mitigate McLeod's potential for violence.

He returns to the witness stand today.


-- with files from Carol Sanders

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 15, 2014 A6


Updated on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 8:00 AM CDT: Corrects spelling of Real Cloutier

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