Caressant Care nurses expected to testify at Wettlaufer inquiry

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Two registered nurses at the Caressant Care nursing home in Woodstock, Ont. are expected to testify this week at the public inquiry into how nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer was able to kill eight patients in southwestern Ontario and remain undetected for years.

Previous testimony revealed that several of Wettlaufer’s colleagues at Caressant Care were concerned about her behaviour, and wrote letters to management about her treatment of residents and staff. Although Wettlaufer faced warnings for these incidents, she was not suspended. 

Before the nurses take the stand, former Caressant Care director of nursing Helen Crombez will face further questioning.

Crombez first hired Elizabeth Wettlaufer at the home and fired her seven years later for making numerous medication errors. In that time, Wettlaufer killed seven elderly patients in her care.

Crombez testified Monday that Caressant Care didn’t file a report when a patient received an insulin overdose just a week and a half after Wettlaufer was first hired as a nurse.

Former Caressant Care director of nursing Helen Crombez, left, hired Elizabeth Wettlaufer, who went on to kill seven patients undetected at the home. (Kate Dubinski/CBC)

The Long-Term Care Homes Public Inquiry, established on Aug. 1, 2017, after Elizabeth Wettlaufer was sentenced to eight concurrent life terms, is headed by Justice Eileen Gillese. It began hearings in St. Thomas, Ont., on June 5 into how Wettlaufer’s crimes went undetected for so long.

Wettlaufer’s killing spree began in 2007 and continued until 2016, when she finally confessed to police. Until then, her employers, police and Ontario’s licensing body for nurses had no idea eight patients had been murdered and six more poisoned — all with injections of massive doses of insulin.

Eventually, Wettlaufer confessed her killing spree to a social worker and psychiatrist and was charged. She pleaded guilty in court to the murders and attempted murders and was sentenced June 26, 2017 to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

The inquiry heard Monday that a patient at Caressant Care in Woodstock, Ont., received an insulin overdose just a week and a half after Elizabeth Wettlaufer was hired as a nurse. No report was filed to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

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