Submission title

Staff haunted by suicide at the Lakeshore Hospital ER








Aaron Derfel


The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the crisis of overcrowded and understaffed emergency rooms in hospitals across Canada. Reporter Aaron Derfel put a human face on the crisis through a deep-dive investigation into one Montreal emergency room that a labour mediator’s report had called “a ticking time bomb.” Derfel documented the deaths, probably preventable, of six patients at the Lakeshore Hospital ER. He exposed how the regional health authority covered up the circumstances of the deaths, depriving the families of information they had a right to know. One of the patients, a retired police officer, hanged himself with the cord of a call bell after being left on a stretcher in a corridor for 14 hours. Derfel discovered that four years later, the cord was still in place, despite the hospital’s claim that it had been removed. The day the story was published, the cord was finally taken down. But the impact of Derfel’s stories went much farther. The Quebec government launched an investigation into the Lakeshore that largely confirmed his findings. The health authority announced construction of an extension to the ER. And the final instalment was used by the Lakeshore as a guidebook on improving ER protocols.