Mom on hold over teen’s death in hospital

Sombre birthday passes with no cause pinpointed


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A Winnipeg woman is holding a solitary vigil instead of a birthday party today for her daughter, who died unexpectedly in hospital last summer, as she continues to wait to find out what killed the 14-year-old.

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A Winnipeg woman is holding a solitary vigil instead of a birthday party today for her daughter, who died unexpectedly in hospital last summer, as she continues to wait to find out what killed the 14-year-old.

“I need to know: why did my child die?” Naline Rampersad said Friday. “How could this have been prevented?”

Rampersaid says she trusted the health-care system and regrets that now. She beats herself up for not demanding more tests she says may have saved her otherwise healthy daughter, Talina Rampersad-Husack, who was struggling to breathe and whose cause of death and autopsy report may take up to a year.


Talina Rampersad-Husack would have turned 15 today. Her death is being reviewed.

“I haven’t had any answers and I am growing more frustrated.”

A critical incident review of the July 17 death at Children’s Hospital is also underway. When serious harm has come to a patient in the health-care system that cannot be attributed to the underlying health condition or inherent risk in the health services provided, a critical incident review is conducted.

Provincial legislation requires health-care organizations to disclose when such an incident occurs to patients or their families, including all facts as they become known.

In Talina’s case, a critical incident review won’t be completed until the final autopsy report is filed with the Manitoba Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Shared Health said Friday.

“Awaiting the autopsy results in this specific case is the source of the ongoing nature of the investigation to determine whether a critical incident occurred,” a spokesperson for Shared Health said.

The autopsy report could take up to a year because it relies on test results that take time to process.

“We would like to again pass along our sincere condolences to this individual’s family and friends for their loss,” Shared Health said.

The lack of speed and information “is part of my frustration,” said Rampersad, who worked in cabinet communications for the former NDP government.

“I would love to know where they are in the process: are there any closer to finding out what took my child’s life? Are they any closer to getting the (autopsy test) results back? I mean, these are things that I have a right to know.”

Talina was having trouble breathing when taken to urgent care at Victoria General Hospital early on July 13. She was transferred to Children’s Hospital that day and received supplemental oxygen. Her condition worsened.

On July 17, she was transferred to the pediatric ICU, where she died.

A source in the hospital familiar with the case previously told the Free Press more diagnostic procedures should have been performed on the girl, who was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs, and she should’ve been transferred to the ICU sooner.

The pediatric intensive care unit where Talina was treated experienced increased patient numbers at the time, Shared Health said earlier.

“Definitely, it would have helped if there were more staff, for sure,” said the source, who contacted the Free Press and agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity.

Knowing staff raised questions about Talina’s treatment makes the not knowing more difficult for the family, NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara said Friday.

“I think part of the reason why the family is struggling with so many unanswered questions is because when this tragedy happened, there were health-care workers who stated very plainly that Talina didn’t receive the care that she should have, given how sick she was,” said Asagwara, a nurse.


Naline Rampersad with 3-year-old Talina Rampersand.

“That raises a number of very serious questions that have gone unanswered, and the family deserves answers,” the MLA for Union Station said. “The lack of communication is really unacceptable.”

There needs to be a better system in place because there will be more critical incidents, Asagwara warned.

“I do think that we’re going to continue to see some scary situations in health care… There’s a direct line from (Progressive Conservative government) cuts to health care to families grieving preventable, devastating outcomes.”

The province is boosting funding with a $200-million human resources action plan and $110 million to address the surgical and diagnostic procedure backlog, but, in the minds of voters heading to the polls later this year, the damage has been done, according to one political observer.

“The challenge for the Tories is that Manitobans simply don’t trust them to do right by them, when it comes to health care,” said Brandon University political science Prof. Kelly Saunders. “This is an emotional connection.

“Voters need to feel that their governments — even if they don’t necessarily like them or voted for them — are still going to do right by them,” she said Friday.

“When that trust is broken, when you no longer feel that your government has your best interests or has your back for whatever reason, it’s hard to come back from that.”

Such trust was similarly broken in 1999, when the PC government was defeated by the NDP, and in 2016, when the NDP government was defeated by the Tories, Saunders said.

She senses a similar trajectory for the PCs now: “For every good-news announcement the government is making, we have these horrible stories of people suffering and dying because of challenges in the health-care system.”

One of those who is suffering and regrets trusting the system would save her daughter just wants answers.

“Every day is a difficult day,” said Rampersad. “There’s reminders of her everywhere in the house. I kept her room as is. That sweet child, even though she was sick, she still made her bed and cleaned up her room before we went to the hospital.”

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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