Robert Martin. (Photo via Facebook)Robert Martin. (Photo via Facebook)

CK hospital reviewing circumstances around death of mental health patient

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) is looking into a family complaint following a suicide in Chatham.

Robert Martin, 26, had a mental illness and was found dead in bed by his mother Leonie VanPuymbroeck on April 8, 2022. The family is blaming a CKHA psychiatrist for their son's suicide.

The family alleges the doctor didn't provide adequate care for the man and released him from the hospital too early, allowing their son to walk home when he was released. The family said it wants to warn others, so nothing like what happened to Robert happens to someone else.

A spokesperson for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario said there have been no official complaints filed against the doctor and noted there are no red flags on his record. Because there have been no complaints filed, CK News Today is not naming the doctor at this time.

The CKHA said it is reviewing the matter.

"The hospital takes all patient and family concerns seriously and is committed to providing patients with quality care. As such, the hospital can confirm that it will be conducting an internal review of the matter," said CKHA in a statement to CK News Today. "Unfortunately, out of respect for the patient and the hospital's confidentiality obligations, the hospital is not able to further comment on the matter at this time."

VanPuymbroeck said the system failed her son and she is asking for change. She believes her son could still be alive if the doctor had shown more compassion.

"When I was younger I contemplated suicide and I had a fantastic psychiatrist who listened to me so I opened up. If you don't have the right psychiatrist, you can shut down," said VanPuymbroeck. "I hope that he's fired from the CKHA and I hope that his license is revoked. He shouldn't have any patients at all."

The Mental Health Act states that a psychiatrist can't keep a mental health patient in the hospital against their will unless they are a risk to themselves or others.

Martin was living with mental illnesses and sorrowfully lost hope for the future, the obituary said.

"Although the system failed him, people didn’t. Sincere thanks to the Chatham Kent and Ontario Provincial Police officers as well as to the nurses at the Canadian Mental Health Association and Chatham-Kent Health Alliance who listened and tried to help," read the obituary. "Robert will always be remembered for his love of family, especially his nieces and nephews, his intelligence, kindness and unique sense of humour."

Help is available at Canada Suicide Prevention Service by calling 833-456-4566.

This week is Mental Health Week in Canada. About 4,000 people die by suicide in Canada each year. For every suicide death, there are an estimated 20-25 attempts. An average of 275 people attempt suicide in Canada every day. Crisis Services Canada said 7-10 people will be permanently affected by every loss to suicide.

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