“Bureaucratic barriers” delayed the care of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder who shot their family members and themselves, the investigation heard


On Tuesday, a provincial death investigation learned that the case manager of the Veterans Affairs Department assigned to Lionel Desmond faced “severe bureaucratic obstacles” that resulted in him being discharged from the hospital in Nova Scotia. There has been a delay of several months in obtaining clinical services in Serbia

Marie-Paule Doucette testified that she and Ste. Anne’s Hospital in Montreal believed that it was imperative for this Afghan veteran with complex PTSD to connect with mental health professionals in his home community, especially considering that he was in the summer of 2016 Only showed “minimal progress” during the 2.5-month hospitalization.

On January 3, 2017, Desmond shot and killed his wife Shanna, his 10-year-old daughter Arya and his mother Brenda, and then he aimed the gun at himself.

Dussett is one of the last witnesses expected to testify in the death investigation.

The preventability hypothesis of this tragedy is at the core of the hearing in Port Hawkesbury, New Hampshire, as evidence is being collected to make recommendations on how to prevent future deaths.

In this family portrait, Lionel Desmond is with his mother Brenda (left) and daughter Aaliyah (right). (Submitted by Cassandra Desmond)

The bureaucratic hurdle that prevented Desmond from hiring a clinical care manager-the person who helped him transition to life after the military and inpatient care-was that the Department of Veterans Affairs only intermittently offered a course that taught her how to use the electronic system to submit her notes.

Although Doucette spoke with Helen Luedee, the clinical care manager, on August 16, 2016 (one day after Desmond was discharged from the hospital), this delay occurred.

They will not be able to meet until November 30, 2016.

“Personally, as not [Veterans Affairs Canada], But working as an individual [there], I think the delay is a bit, well, there are major bureaucratic obstacles that complicate the process,” Doucette told the investigation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs seems to agree.

Internal review recommended changes

An internal review conducted by the federal department after the death found that none of its employees had made “any procedural errors”, but it stated in its improvement suggestions that the course to prevent Luedee from dating Desmond “should be completed in an emergency. Needed. The basis for the case immediately supported.”

Doucette could not say whether the improvement proposal has been adopted.

Desmond was first diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder by a military psychiatrist in 2011, which was related to a seven-month trip in Afghanistan in 2007.

Although he received treatment in the years after his diagnosis, he never recovered. Dussett testified that Desmond’s psychologist in Fredericton told her that he hoped to stabilize the veteran’s mental health through hospitalization.

After that, he hoped that Desmond would be stable enough to start trauma treatment at the Occupational Stress Injury Clinic in New Brunswick.

But Desmond’s home in Oromocto, New Hampshire was sold while he was in a mental hospital in Montreal. He chose to move back to Nova Scotia immediately after his release.

“When someone receives treatment, it’s not an ideal situation-Saint Anne once stated that when they know there is a team that can work with them after release, they will accept the person receiving treatment,” Dussett testified on Tuesday. Say.

“It is unusual to free a person from hospitalization without resources.”

Shanna Desmond and her daughter Arya. (Facebook)

Doucette said that she chose to continue as his case manager temporarily after he moved, so that he could have some continuous care.

When asked if she would take a different approach, Doucette pointed out that she thought she could not predict what happened on January 3, 2017.

But she said this prompted her to change her practice. Although she left the Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs to practice in the community in 2019, she said that she now asks clients more directly about conflict and violence in their relationship.

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