CK hospital revises circumstances surrounding the death of a psychiatric patient



The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) is investigating a family complaint after a suicide in Chatham.

Robert Martin, 26, had a mental illness and was found dead in bed by his mother Leonie VanPuymbroeck on April 8, 2022. The family blames a CKHA psychiatrist for their son’s suicide.

The family alleges that the doctor failed to properly care for the man and released him from the hospital too early, allowing their son to walk home when he was released. The family said they want to warn others, so nothing like what happened to Robert with someone else.

A spokesperson for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario said no official complaints have been filed against the doctor and noted that there are no red flags on his file. Because no complaints have been filed, CK News Today is not naming the doctor at this time.

The CKHA said it is investigating the matter.

“The hospital takes all patient and family concerns seriously and is committed to providing patients with quality care. As such, the hospital can confirm that it will conduct an internal review of the case,” CKHA said in a statement to CK News Today. “Unfortunately, out of respect for the patient and the hospital’s confidentiality obligations, the hospital is unable to comment further on the matter at this time.”

VanPuymbroeck said the system has failed her son and she is asking for change. She believes her son could have been alive if the doctor had shown more compassion.

“When I was younger I contemplated suicide and I had a wonderful psychiatrist who listened to me, so I opened up. If you don’t have the right psychiatrist, you can stop’, says VanPuymbroeck. “I hope he is fired from the CKHA and I hope his license is revoked. He shouldn’t have any patients at all.”

The GGZ states that a psychiatrist may not keep a psychiatric patient in hospital against his will, unless he or she poses a risk to himself or others.

Martin lived with mental illness and lost hope for the future with regret, the obituary said.

“Although the system let him down, the people didn’t. Sincere thanks to the Chatham Kent and Ontario Provincial Police officers and to the nurses from the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance who listened and tried to help,” the obituary reads. “Robert will always be remembered for his love for the family, especially his cousins, his intelligence, kindness and unique sense of humor.”

Help is available from the Canada Suicide Prevention Service by calling 833-456-4566.

This week is Mental Health Week in Canada. About 4,000 people die by suicide each year in Canada. There are an estimated 20-25 attempts for every death by suicide. In Canada, an average of 275 people attempt suicide every day. Crisis Services Canada said 7-10 people will be permanently affected by any loss through suicide.

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