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Ont. nurse charged with manslaughter after woman taken off life-support: Cops

SHAWN JEFFORD and TRACY MCLAUGHLIN, Toronto Sun

MIDLAND, Ont. -- The last 36 hours of Deanna Leblanc’s life started with a routine knee scope at a Markham hospital.

But now, more than a year after her death, police have charged a nurse responsible for her care with her death.

Joanna Flynn, 50, appeared in a Barrie courtroom Thursday accused of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death.

The alleged victim’s husband, Mike Leblanc, 49, told the Toronto Sun that he’s still not sure how the routine procedure led to his wife landing in Georgian Bay General Hospital. But the pain hasn’t been eased for him, his two boys, his daughter and family that Deanna left behind so suddenly.

“She went for a knee scope in Newmarket hospital and then 36 hours later that was it,” Leblanc recalled Thursday in an interview. “I don’t know exactly what happened.”

Deanna, his wife of nearly 20 years, had been having trouble with her knee. She thought the scope would clear up the issues and scheduled the half-hour out-patient procedure in Markham last February.

She came home the same day, that Feb. 28, 2014 and was fine.

“Sunday morning around 3 a.m. or something she woke up and told me she was dying and to call 911,” he said.

Deanna lost consciousness at some point and when she arrived at Georgian Bay Hospital she was placed on life support, Leblanc recalled.

Deanna died March 2.

“There was nothing wrong with her,” he said of his wife before scope. “She was healthy, 39 years old, (she had) two boys at home. There wasn’t a person around that wouldn’t wish they had a relationship like we had.”

At the time, Leblanc said he was so overcome with grief and pre-occupied with taking care of his family that he had no reason to suspect foul play. But Midland police came to him days later and said they had opened an investigation into Deanna’s death.

For over a year officers have kept him apprised of the investigation and it concluded Thursday when police called him, announcing the charges, Leblanc said.

Midland Police allege that Deanna was removed from life support without proper authorization.

“I don’t know what would have happened,” Leblanc said. “It’s a s----y situation. I don’t know if some kind of miracle could have happened. I don’t really know.”

Deanna was a dedicated mother and a good friend, he said. She often played the role of counsellor to his friends, advising them on matters of the heart.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve come home and found my buddies on the back deck crying with her because they were hurt or upset about a relationship,” he said.

Deanna worked in retail at Simply Country, a store in downtown Midland. She also helped Leblanc with his RV repair business.

“She could bring out the good in anybody,” he said. “If there was anybody that you ever needed to talk to about anything in life she was the one you would talk to.”

Leblanc said he’s haunted by the ‘what ifs’.

“If I had of know she had a bum knee she would have lived with a bum knee,” he said.

“The only time it bugged her she went out dancing. She loved to dance. She just thought she’d get it fixed because I guess people get those knee scopes done, I don’t know how many times a day in Canada and Ontario.”

Meanwhile, Midland Police Insp. Ron Wheeldon told the Sun the investigation was complex. The nurse, now charged in connection to the case, surrendered to police Thursday.

“Any loss of life rocks any small community,” he said.

Georgian Bay General Hospital CEO Karen McGrath said the hospital was advised of the charges by police Thursday.

“While we understand that a criminal charge involving someone at our hospital is a highly distressing occurrence and will create a good deal of anxiety for our community, the charges result from a police investigation to which the hospital is not a party,” she said.

A friend of the Flynn’s, Debra Kuhn, a registered nurse herself, says she is angered by the situation.

“I’m shocked that police have laid charges,” said Kuhn in an interview. “They and everyone else sure like to blow things out of proportion.”

Kuhn said she has worked with Flynn in the past.

“She is an awesome, awesome nurse, and that’s all that can be said about her,” Kuhn said. “If I was sick, I would want (her) to care for me.”

Flynn was working at the hospital at the time of the incident, according to a hospital spokesman but is no longer employed there.

Flynn was released on $50,000 bail in Barrie court Thursday. Her next court appearance is scheduled in Midland on May 28.

—Files from QMI Agency.

 


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