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Niagara Health issues statement regarding death of Heather Winterstein

HealthcareNiagara Health issues statement regarding death of Heather Winterstein

The following is a statement released by Niagara Health President and CEO Lynn Guerriero:

“We support the efforts of Six Nations of the Grand River to improve Indigenous people’s access to healthcare. We understand Heather Winterstein’s family is a part of the Six Nations community, and we share our condolences to the family and community. 

Niagara Health has completed our internal Quality of Care Reflective Review of Heather Winterstein’s patient experience. We have met with Heather’s family to share the findings with them directly and answer their questions. We understand this is a deeply painful time for the family.  

The internal review was conducted in January and February of 2022 following a structured process used by all Ontario hospitals and involved Niagara Health Emergency Department and ICU program staff, physicians, leadership, and the Niagara Health Quality of Care Reflective Review Committee. Please know that the contents of the review are confidential to maintain Heather’s privacy.

Our internal review identified some opportunities for improvement to help us provide the best possible care for everyone, particularly during times of overcapacity and health system pressures. We embrace the opportunity to keep getting better in the care we provide all patients. We are looking at how our Emergency Department functions based on best practices and the ways we identify and support members of equity-deserving groups* such as Indigenous patients.  

The goal of our staff and physicians is to make our hospitals safe, culturally welcoming spaces for everyone. Niagara Health is committed to listening, learning, and improving to help deliver high-quality, safe care for our patients and families.

We recognize the Coroner’s investigation into Heather’s care is underway, and Niagara Health is fully cooperating. We continue to be committed to the independent Third Party Review to deepen our understanding of Heather’s care experience and the experiences of Indigenous patients and community. The Third Party Review will follow the conclusion of the Coroner’s investigation.”

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