Inquest into Fredericton ER death postponed

“New information” has postponed an inquest into the death of a man who died last summer in the waiting room of a Fredericton hospital’s emergency department, the province’s chief coroner said Friday.

It comes three days after the office announced the inquest into the death of Donald Darrell Mesheau, who died in July 2022 while in the waiting room of the emergency department at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton.

The inquest was originally scheduled from May 29 to June 2 at the University of New Brunswick law school in Fredericton.

But according to a statement issued Friday, Coroner Services is examining “new information” brought forward this week.

“As per the Coroners Act, an inquest cannot go forward while a death is still being investigated,” said chief coroner Heather Brander.

“As this is an active investigation, there will be no further comment.”

Brander added the inquest will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Mesheau’s death sparked major changes within New Brunswick’s Department of Health and its two regional health authorities.

Bruce Fitch, then-social development minister, took over as health minister, replacing Dorothy Shephard. Dr. John Dornan, appointed president and CEO of the Horizon Health Network in April 2022, was also replaced by Margaret Melanson.

The province also dissolved the boards of directors of the Horizon and Vitalité Health Networks, replacing them with two appointed trustees.

Premier Blaine Higgs said at the time that Mesheau’s death was “appalling and unacceptable” and committed to asking Horizon to launch an investigation.

“I’m prepared to do whatever is necessary to protect and improve the health care system in our province,” said Higgs in July 2022.

“I have no doubt that every New Brunswicker and all of our health care workers are saddened and concerned by this story. We all want to know that when we go to the hospital, we will receive the help we need.”

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