Family members are raising concerns after a 64-year-old patient at Ottawa’s Montfort Hospital was missing for more than a day before being found outside by police.
Christina Hajjar was faced with a terrifying ordeal, which began Friday after her mother went missing from the mental health wing at the east end hospital for nearly 30 hours.
“She had gone outside for a break, she’s allowed to go outside as a voluntary patient,” Hajjar said, noting that it was around 9:00 a.m. “I got a call at 2 o’clock on Friday saying that she had not returned to the hospital and that they were in a Code Yellow and they were going to go look for her.”
However, her mother was not found. Hajjar, who does not live in the Ottawa area, says she asked hospital staff if police would be called, which they replied no. On Saturday morning, she filed a missing person’s report.
Ottawa police officers responded to the area. Police say the patient was found near the hospital, and paramedics were on the scene to conduct a health check.
“They found her behind the hospital,” says Hajjar. “It’s heartbreaking to find out that your mother spent 30 hours in the dirt in a wooded area. Thank God, there were trees and it protected her from the rain that night … how lucky that there were no injuries, especially considering I was told she fell off a little cliff.”
Hajjar raised concerns over what she considers the hospital’s slow response to call police, adding that she has been contacted by officials at the Montfort Hospital, who offered an apology.
“According to my mother she fell over her walker, the walker went first and then she sort of went with it,” says Hajjar. “And she basically said she was screaming and praying and screaming and praying and then when she couldn’t scream anymore she just figured she would die there.
“The safety and well-being of the patients and people who work at Hôpital Montfort is paramount to us,” says a spokesperson with the Montfort Hospital. “We are conducting an internal investigation, which involves communicating with the family. It is essential for us to understand what happened and to review everything that can be done to prevent this kind of situation from happening again.”
The Montfort Hospital does have protocols in place for these types of situations and says that staff will meet with Hajjar next week to discuss what happened with her mother.
“I don’t want to see this happen to anybody else,” says Hajjar. “The hospital should have called the police, in my opinion, they should have done more so hopefully this can affect some change in their policy.”
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