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This article was published 7/2/2009 (4250 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The heads of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Health Minister Theresa Oswald are now facing calls for their resignations in the wake of emergency-room bungling that cost Brian Sinclair his life.
Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard called Saturday for WRHA president Brian Postl and vice-president Brock Wright to step down following revelations that Sinclair had contact with several Health Sciences Centre staff while he waited 34 hours last fall for a simple procedure that would have saved his life.
Gerrard said the two men had failed in their responsibilities when they did not report crucial details following a review of Sinclair's death.
"The buck's got to stop somewhere," Gerrard said. "This is such a glaring omission in the way (the WRHA investigation into Sinclair's death) was handled, I don't see any alternative."
Hours after Gerrard's call for WRHA heads to roll, Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen put the blame for the tragedy one step higher.
McFadyen said it should be Oswald, rather than the two WRHA officials, who should pay with her job. "The minister's credibility is in tatters," McFadyen said. "She can't be trusted to oversee the largest department in government."
McFadyen pointed to Oswald's past claims that Sinclair had not made himself known to officials at the HSC emergency room last September as proof of why she must step down.
He also demanded Premier Gary Doer apologize for making similar remarks himself.
Hospital security tapes released this week showed that Sinclair did, in fact, approach the triage desk.
The Free Press reported on Saturday that the province's chief medical examiner Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra said Sinclair sat vomiting in the Health Sciences Centre emergency room as hospital security staff tried to alert triage staff to his condition.
The 45-year-old double amputee was found dead in a wheelchair in the ER waiting room by a horrified member of the public Sept. 21, 2008. An autopsy showed he died of a bladder infection that could have been treated with a catheter change and antibiotics.
The province's chief medical examiner called an inquest into Sinclair's death Wednesday.
The WRHA has never disclosed that Sinclair was seen vomiting during his final hours, and up until Thursday, maintained Sinclair never approached the triage desk for care.
Instead, the WRHA insists Sinclair "fell through the cracks" of the medical system.
WRHA officials maintained Sinclair did not approach the triage desk to be registered in the queue to see a physician.
One day later, Wright watched the security videos and admitted they show Sinclair wheeled himself up to the line at the triage desk and spoke with a triage aide. Triage aides have training similar to health-care aides and are responsible for minor cleaning. They should also alert the triage nurse if a patient is in need of assessment.
Opposition politicians have sharply criticized the Doer government since the episode became public, but Gerrard was the first to demand Postl and Wright resign.
On Saturday afternoon, the WRHA rejected Gerrard's call for the resignations of Postl and Wright.
"Both Dr. Postl and Dr. Wright have a long record of exemplary service within the Winnipeg health region," said Allan Fineblit, vice-chairman of the WRHA board of directors.
"It is entirely inappropriate to make those kinds of comments without a full, fair and transparent examination of the facts. Following the regular scheduled meeting of the full board Tuesday, we will be issuing a more comprehensive statement on this topic."
McFadyen acknowledged Gerrard had reason to demand Postl's resignation.
"I agree with Dr. Gerrard that Dr. Postl has a credibility problem," McFadyen said.
But he added that all four officials -- Postl, Wright, Doer and Oswald -- should be held accountable.
"Practically speaking, they're all in the same position," McFadyen said. "The premier has to apologize. The minister has to be replaced.
"The precedent for hanging civil servants out to dry every time there is a problem in government is a problematic one.''
Late Saturday, Doer's office also rejected the call to remove Oswald.
"Quite simply, we are more concerned with finding out what went tragically wrong and fixing it rather than politicizing the issue," a spokesman said.
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