Wettlaufer’s former boss tells inquiry nurses have access to many deadly medications


Killer nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer used insulin to kill eight nursing home patients, but her former boss told an inquiry yesterday that nurses have access to many deadly medications.


Helen Combez, the director of nursing at Caressant Care, a nursing home in Woodstock, Ont., continued testifying today at the public inquiry in St. Thomas into how Wettlaufer was able to kill so many patients without being detected.

“How can you prevent everything?” Combez said. 

In hindsight, she told the inquiry, a blood sugar check could have been issued for every patient that showed signs of hypoglycemia but at the time, that wasn’t protocol. 

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. 

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

The inquiry has heard that Crombez hired Wettlaufer at the home and fired her seven years later for making numerous medication errors. In her time in Woodstock, 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 Wettlaufer was sentenced to eight concurrent life terms, is headed by Justice Eileen Gillese. It began hearings in St. Thomas 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 a psychiatrist and a social worker. 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.

Wettlaufer 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. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)