Ex-Nunavut nurse Debbie McKeown tells of infant’s death in affidavit

A former Cape Dorset nurse at the centre of a controversy after refusing to see a baby who later died has given her version of what happened that night in a sworn affidavit filed with the Nunavut Court of Justice.

Debbie McKeown, 56, of Thunder Bay, Ont., filed the affidavit this month as part of her fight against the suspension of her nursing licence in Nunavut. She is arguing that the regional nursing oversight body overstepped its authority when it suspended her licence last May and took additional disciplinary action in October.

One of the 19 complaints against McKeown is that she refused to see three-month-old Makibi Timilak on April 4, 2012, telling the parents to come in the next morning. The baby died later that night.

Nunavut rules dictate that nurses on call in the evening must open the health centre to see an infant under the age of one who might be ill.

Spoke with baby’s mother

In the sworn affidavit, which contains allegations not proven in court, McKeown says she spoke with the baby’s mother at 9 p.m. that night.

“I said to Neevee that she should come to the clinic if the baby didn’t settle,” McKeown says in the affidavit.

She says at 3 a.m. she received another call saying Makibi was not breathing. The parents brought the baby to the clinic. McKeown says vital signs were absent and that the baby appeared to have been dead for some time.

She alleges Makibi’s father told her that at 10 p.m. the baby had been “smiling and happy” and had been put down to sleep on his belly sometime after 11 p.m.

McKeown alleges fellow nurse Gwen Slade, who filed the first complaint against her in February 2012, was hostile and insubordinate.

She also made allegations against Elise Van Schaik​, who worked as the director of health programs for the southern Baffin region overseeing five health centres, including Cape Dorset’s. McKeown alleges Van Schaik “harboured a hostility” towards her stemming from previous working experiences. Van Schaik was part of a regional group that recommended an internal investigation be done on McKeown.​​

McKeown lists the other allegations one by one, many of which she says she has no recollection of or are completely false.



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