A worker at a Manitoulin Island long-term care home has been charged with criminal negligence causing death in the case of a resident who died after he went out into the cold to smoke.
The charges that include failing to provide the necessaries of life were laid in the death of Murray Miles Patterson, 65, a resident of the Manitoulin Lodge in Gore Bay who died Jan. 17 at an area hospital.
If Patterson’s death is linked to the fact he went out for a smoke, it would bring under scrutiny the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which became law last year.
The stringent guidelines allowing smoking in long-term care facilities and psychiatric hospitals include creation of ventilated smoking rooms.
But with most facilities deciding not to build them, a situation has arisen where many elderly, frail and often sick long-term smokers who can’t kick their habit have been forced outside – sometimes into the bitter cold – to smoke their cigarettes.
Patterson, a stroke victim, was taken to hospital on Jan. 16 with hypothermia after he was found in the courtyard of the home. It occurred “sometime after the established smoking period” outside, Manitoulin Lodge said in a release yesterday.
It said the health ministry had conducted a review and “unmet standards” were found.
Residents told the Sudbury Star that Patterson had gone outside with two other residents for a smoke and hadn’t returned with them. The forecast for that day was minus 16C.