03/23/2015 04:22 EDT | Updated 05/23/2015 05:59 EDT

Hospital overcrowding led to poor care in Saskatchewan man's death: NDP

REGINA - Two Saskatchewan women say their father choked to death at a hospital because of mistakes that could have been prevented.

Linda Bandorf says her father suffered a horrific death in January 2014 because hospital staff didn't react quickly enough when her father started to choke while being tube fed.

"He was fully aware what was happening when he died," she said Monday at a news conference held by the province's NDP Opposition.

Lori Urszulan said the feeding suction was malfunctioning and the code-blue unit responded too slowly.

"You could see in his eyes he's asking for help," said Urszulan, who added that her father wrote on a piece of paper to indicate that he needed suction.

She said she went into the hall to ask a nurse to call for the code- blue team.

"She responded to me that she was not on duty yet."

The NDP raised the death of Earl Luhr, 79, during question period as an example of the consequences of overcrowding in hospitals and the need for more staff.

In December, the health region sent a letter to Luhr's family apologizing "for the many aspects of Mr. Luhr's care that were less than satisfactory."

"We feel that we have failed Earl and his family in a time when we were most needed. For that we are truly sorry," the letter said.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said in question period that he will be following up the case at Pasqua Hospital to try to ensure that the same thing doesn't happen to another family.

"A review was done," he said in an interview. "They've made some changes to how orders are written when it comes to feeding tubes. They've also made some changes in how feeding tubes are administered by the care aides as a direct result of this case."

Luhr's family said that before his death Luhr had been moved to a room on a floor where the code-blue team couldn't immediately open the door.

"Certainly this was a transitional unit that is used for people that are waiting for placement in long-term care," Duncan said.

A report from the health region said it took about three minutes for the code team to arrive at Luhr's bedside.

NDP Leader Cam Broten said Luhr was moved to the transitional space without the right support.

"Definitely there was pressure to move him along. We know at that time there were overcapacity issues," he said. "This family deserves a lot more in terms of the answers."

Urszulan said she continues to relive her father's death.

"We just want improvements made so no other family has to go through this."