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A message from Lynn Guerriero, Niagara Health President and CEO

Posted Dec 14th, 2021

I was deeply troubled to learn of concerns raised yesterday by family members and leaders within the local Indigenous community related to the death last Friday of a patient in our care.

An internal quality care review is underway to fully understand the patient’s experience, and the family will be involved in this process. In addition, I will be speaking with members of the patient’s family and Indigenous leaders in our community to suggest that we work together with an external third party to review this patient’s care. I will also be suggesting that this independent review look more broadly at the healthcare experiences of Indigenous patients and their concerns.

A third-party review will help us to deepen our understanding of this patient’s experience and the experiences of Indigenous patients and community to further inform our work to provide safe, quality healthcare to every patient we serve.

Diversity, equity and inclusion is a key priority for Niagara Health. Last year, we made an organizational commitment to unequivocally denounce all acts of racism and discrimination in whatever forms they might take. Since then, we have done a lot of work together to create a more culturally safe environment for our patients and their families, and for our teams.

Trust is a fundamental element in our healthcare system, and it is essential that everyone who comes through our doors feels safe, valued and cared for.

Updated message from President and CEO Lynn Guerriero – January 18, 2022

We are devastated by Heather Winterstein’s death. I have personally reached out to Heather’s family to express our condolences, to assure them of our commitment to understanding what happened, and to include the family in this process. We are in regular contact with the family and members from the local Indigenous community and will continue to stay in touch with them.  

The internal quality of care review is a top priority and is fully underway. This review is focused on understanding Heather’s care experience, and we will be sharing the recommendations from this review with the family. The target date for completion is end of February.  

The Coroner’s investigation has begun, and Niagara Health is fully supportive and co-operating. All information requested by the investigating Coroner to date has been provided. This is a separate investigation from our internal review and is being overseen by the Coroner’s office.

Niagara Health is committed to understanding Heather’s experience and the experience of Indigenous patients in our care. Ultimately, we’re committed to providing the best care for every patient and to working with Heather’s family and Indigenous community members to meaningfully improve their experiences.

Lynn Guerriero
President and CEO
Niagara Health

Niagara Health System