Ms. Roma Elizabeth Hart

                                                                                    # 54 – 934 Carrigan Place

                                                                                    Winnipeg, Manitoba

                                                                                              R3T 4S6

 

                                                                                    Phone: 275-5723

                                                                                    Email: romahart222@shaw.ca

                                                                                   

 

                                                                                    October 2, 2008

Dr. Michel Tetreault

President and Chief Executive Officer

St. Boniface General Hospital

409 Tache Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba

       R2H 2A6

 

 

Dear Dr. Tetreault,

 

 

I write to specifically ask for an apology for the sexual assault that I experienced on December 26th, 1989 while in the care of St. Boniface General Hospital.  I feel that an apology for this attack and the direct consequent actions of the St.Boniface Hospital, which created further, and substantial life long injury to me should be addressed. An apology to me would be an appropriate and good step.

 

To put this request into context you should know that I was a psychiatric in-patient of Dr.Colin Ross who was the Director of Psychiatry on the day that I was sexually assaulted in the McEwen Building M3 on the night of December 26th, 1989. Late that evening I had returned from a pass to accompany my teenage daughter to her father’s funeral, it was a tragic death and he had been taken off life support the night before Christmas. I found it terribly difficult to spend Boxing day at both his funeral and the wake at his parent’s house and when I returned to the McEwen building I was too upset to go to sleep so I went to the patient lounge instead to keep myself distracted by sorting through the piles of magazines.

 

That same day Dr.Colin Ross admitted a male patient onto M3, which was up until then filled solely with female patients, and that male patient was alone in the patient lounge watching a hockey game, every other patient was in bed at the time of the assault. 

 

Within five minutes of my being in the lounge with that male patient, who was at least twice my size, he came up from behind me and began sexually assaulting me. I screamed for the nurses several times until they finally came and pulled him off of me. I went to the patient phones and tried to call the police but the nurses told me that I was not allowed to do that. I tried to phone my family to let them know what had just happened to me but the nurses would not allow me to do that either. I was ordered away from the phones and told to go to my room. Since that day I have heard from other women who had been sexually assaulted in the St.Boniface Hospital and they also were not allowed to phone the police and I think this policy interferes with a proper criminal investigation of the assault where the condition of both parties cannot be established at the time of the assault.

 

The following morning Dr.Colin Ross came into my room while I was laying on my bed staring at the wall with tears still falling down my cheeks. He took my hand and told me that he “believed” what had happened to me. He then explained to me that he knew that the male patient he had admitted to M3 was a sexual offender and that he had five videotapes of him describing his assaults on other women but although that patient was prone to sexual assault he “didn’t think that patient would do that on this ward”.  I was absolutely appalled and stayed in bed for about ten minutes after Colin Ross left before I decided that I would share the information I had just been given with a reporter at the Sun newspaper and the Klinic sexual abuse crisis workers.

 

The Sun newspaper ran the story of my sexual assault on the front page with excerpts from an interview they had with the President of the St.Boniface Hospital, which confirmed what Dr.Colin Ross had told me: that the male patient was “prone” to that type of assault.

 

Dr.Colin Ross was furious with me for “telling” and told me that I was being kicked out of the hospital, but this discharge was impeded by the enormous quantities of drugs he had prescribed to me in the hospital, fifty-two (52) milligrams of Halcion per day. It was necessary for me to stay in M3 for a few more days, sharing the common spaces with my attacker while I was in fast and severe withdrawal. No one ever apologized to me and the nurses criticized me for complaining about having to be around my attacker so much.

 

A few days after being thrown out of the hospital on my own and having been given a requirement by Dr.Colin Ross to walk to Shopper’s Drug Mart every day to pick up a prescription for three hundred and twenty (320) milligrams of Valium per day while suffering from severe drug withdrawal I fell on the icy sidewalk and the temporal mandibular disk on my right side was seriously dislocated. This accident caused me to undergo a year of physiotherapy and several surgeries and causes me to suffer from fibromyalgia, a condition leaving me in severe chronic pain and disabled for the rest of my life.

 

Emotionally I find that I no longer feel safe in the hospital. In April of 1992 as a patient in the St.Boniface Hospital, this time for five hours of intra-oral-osteonomy to break apart my jaw, find and replace my right temporal mandibular disk, I found myself in fear of the male patients on the ward. It was particularly unsettling for me to be unable to move out of my bed and fully aware that my having my mouth completely wired shut and my face and lips astonishingly swollen prevented me from speaking or calling for help should any of those patients come near me. I was unable to bring myself to explain my fears to the staff because of the way I had been treated years earlier in the St.Boniface Hospital. This time I was criticized by the staff for being “weepy”.

 

I believe that I am owed an apology from the St.Boniface Hospital because this sexual assault and the direct consequent actions of it should never have happened.

 

I thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ms. Roma Hart