WINNIPEG — The death of a woman who apparently slipped away from a Winnipeg hospital while she was intoxicated by drugs could — and should — have been prevented, her family says.
The frozen body of Windy Sinclair, a 29-year-old mother of four, was found outside a Winnipeg apartment building Dec. 28. It was two days after she had been taken to hospital while she was hallucinating on crystal meth, her mother says.
"Why didn't they keep an eye on her at all times — for the safety of herself and to the others around her?" Eleanor Sinclair asked Thursday.
Her daughter's death is the latest tragedy in the family. Eleanor Sinclair's husband, Brian, died of pneumonia two years ago. Her son, Roderick, drowned in 2011 at the age of 22. He disappeared one day and his body washed up on a beach five months later, she said.
Windy Sinclair was struggling with drug addiction and was high on crystal meth and hallucinating after having Christmas dinner with the family, her mother said. The next morning, the younger woman called 911 and an ambulance came and took her to hospital.
"I said, 'There's no way for her to get back home' ... and they said, 'Oh, we'll provide her with a taxi slip to come back home,'" the mother said.
She said she later called Seven Oaks General Hospital and was first told her daughter had been treated and released. She made phone calls and posted messages on social media but no one had seen the hospitalized woman. Eleanor Sinclair called the hospital again on the 27th.
"And this time they said, 'Oh, she was seen, but she left on her own and ... we don't keep tabs on people that leave the hospital.'"
The city was in the middle of a cold snap at the time. Temperatures were well below -20 C. Windy Sinclair's body was found far from the hospital and the family home.
Police did not confirm the body was hers, but said the death was not a homicide.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority was investigating Thursday.
"While we are in the initial stages of reviewing this case, we do know that Ms. Sinclair was brought to Seven Oaks General Hospital in the evening of December 25," Real Cloutier, the authority's interim president and CEO, said in a written statement.
"She was seen in the emergency department and was in the process of receiving treatment. When staff returned to her treatment area to share results of some testing, Ms. Sinclair had taken her belongings and left the building.
"Staff searched the area for her, but were unable to locate her. Calls to the number on Ms. Sinclair’s file were unanswered."
Eleanor Sinclair said she had provided the ambulance staff with an updated phone number but no one called her.
Cloutier said health authority officials plan to meet with Eleanor Sinclair and share details of what the investigation might yield.