Woman’s instructions about medication ignored
March 17, 2021
MONTREAL – The Quebec coroner is investigating the death of Mireille Ndjomouo (pictured), who died this month at the Jewish General Hospital, where she was transferred after complaining about her care at Charles-Le Moyne Hospital in Longueuil. The 44-year-old Black woman posted a video on Facebook on March 7 pleading for help, saying that staff at the Longueuil hospital gave her penicillin even though she had told them she was allergic to it.
Members of the local Cameroonian community held a demonstration in front of Charles-Le Moyne to protest her treatment. The Montreal Gazette reported that a support group has raised $16,605 in a Go Fund Me campaign to help her family send her body back to her native Cameroon for burial.
“This is Joyce Echaquan all over again,” Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) told the Gazette. He was referring to the 37-year-old Atikamekw mother of seven who died on Sept. 28, shortly after doing a Facebook Live video that recorded hospital workers making disparaging, judgmental remarks about her.
In the Facebook video, Ndjomouo, looking swollen and appearing short of breath, pleads for someone to save her, saying that she was given penicillin despite having informed staff that she was allergic to it. “I beg you, I beg you, any human life. Help me to get me out of this hospital,” she said in a weak voice from her hospital bed. She asked members of the Cameroonian community to share the video on social media.
“Please save my life, I have children. I don’t want to die and leave my children,” Ndjomouo said in the video.
“They are killing me,” she said, saying she had asked to be transferred to another hospital but the request was denied.
“I can’t breathe anymore. I have a rash all over my body from my head to my toes,” she said, adding that her lips were paralyzed, her friends didn’t recognize her and she was in a lot of pain.
“Why did people disregard her plea for help?” Niemi asked.
He called for the coroner to investigate whether systemic bias, racial or otherwise, played a part in Ndjomouo’s death, as well of those of Echaquan and of Candida Macarine, who died at Lakeshore General Hospital on Feb. 27. Macarine’s family has said the hospital did not inform them that she had been found dead on the floor of an isolation room after arriving at the hospital in respiratory distress.
“I think the more important question that we should also ask is, is there a pattern?” Niemi said.
“The question is worth asking, whether it’s systemic,” he said. “Is it a problem of attitudes towards certain people who need healthcare and whether they didn’t get the proper care because of who they are, Indigenous or people of colour?” he asked.
The provincial coroner will hold hearings from May 13 to June 2 at the Joliette courthouse into Echaquan’s death at the Centre hospitalier de Lanaudière.