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Jury at inquest into boy's death recommends nurse be hired at youth facility

10/08/2014 09:18 EDT | Updated 12/08/2014 05:59 EST
SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. - A coroner's jury says there needs to be a nurse at the Prince Albert Youth Residence, an open-custody correctional facility where a 16-year-old deaf boy went into medical distress a year ago.

An inquest into the death of Dylan LaChance wrapped up Wednesday after hearing how the boy, who had trouble communicating with staff, indicated he was having back pain days before he developed an acute lung infection.

The jury recommended the facility either use the nursing staff from the nearby Pine Grove Correctional Centre for women or hire a medical professional on staff.

Chris Lyons, operations director for the 26-bed facility, says he has asked a nurse from Pine Grove to come over and help in the past, but it has never panned out.

He says he has come under criticism from the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region for how often youth do go to hospital, which he estimated happens about 100 times a year.

LaChance, who had been brought to PAYR after a fight outside the high school on the Big River First Nation, was taken to a walk-in clinic but the doctor there diagnosed his back pain as a soft-tissue injury.

The jury also recommended better documentation of medical conditions and said there should be a way to facilitate special communications needs.

Lyons admitted during his testimony that the institution is limited in what it can provide people with special needs.

The inquest was told staff tried sign language, writing out messages and showing pictures to LaChance, but were largely unsuccessful in communicating with him.

Angie Bear, a representative of the LaChance family, said outside the inquest that while they appreciate the recommendations from the jury, they would like more care taken with special needs youth.

"When we have somebody who can't speak, or can't read or write, or can't communicate, maybe that's not necessarily the best place for that … young person to be," said Bear. "How are they to function and how are they to cope?"

Bear said the jury's thought and compassion helped the family get past their loss "because now at least Dylan has a voice. Somebody recognizes everything he went through in his last days. It's not just the family grieving it by themselves."

(CKBI)

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