Seniors’ rights group calls for accountability in Calgary freezing death

Three months after the freezing death of a Calgary long-term care resident, police don’t have an update in the case

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Three months after the freezing death of a Calgary long-term care resident, police don’t have an update in the case.

Now, an advocacy group for Alberta seniors is calling for accountability in the death of the 91-year-old woman found outside the Extendicare Cedars Villa in the middle of a frigid night on Dec. 13

“It’s extremely alarming,” said Ruth Adria, chair of the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society.

Staff at Extendicare Cedars Villa, located at 3300 8th Ave. S.W., had noticed the woman, a resident at the facility, had gone missing at 3:30 a.m. They last reported seeing her at 1:15 a.m.

More than an hour passed until staff notified police to report the woman as missing at 4:45 a.m. Police found the woman shortly after they were called, and EMS crews treated her for cold exposure.

The woman died while crews were at the scene. Historical weather records show the temperature in Calgary was -16 C at the time, with snow flurries.

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At the time, Calgary police said they were investigating the death to determine whether it was a criminal matter. When reached in late January and again last week, police said no further update was available as the investigation was still ongoing.

In a statement Sunday, Extendicare reiterated that the investigation was continuing. They said the family of the woman had requested privacy.

“We regard resident safety very seriously, and have cooperated fully with the parties conducting the investigation,” Extendicare said. “If the investigation results in recommendations as to how we might improve our policies and procedures to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, we will incorporate them in all of our homes. Nothing is more important than the safety and security of those in our care.

“We are respecting the family’s request for privacy and are continuing to share updates with them directly.”

Extendicare, an Ontario company, operates 18 continuing-care sites in Alberta.

Adria said she has reached out to Calgary police repeatedly for more information about the case, but hasn’t been able to obtain a case number for reference.

She said when families entrust their loved ones to continuing-care centres, those facilities have a duty of care to their residents. She added that she wanted to see results of an investigation and accountability in the case.

“These clients are totally vulnerable, dependent and have no ability to self-advocate. They are physically frail,” Adria said. “After all these years, we want change. It’s too awful.”

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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