Team to probe death of 65-year-old woman named

DETAILS of the terms of reference and membership of an inquiry into the unexpected death of a 65-year-old woman at a North Cork nursing home have been published by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Hannah Comber, from Ballylopin, Charleville, died after she slipped inside a secure therapeutic chair, choking on her lap belt, in June this year.

The investigation team will comprise of former HSE South Programme Manager and Deputy CEO, Tom O’Dwyer, South Tipperary Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry, Dr Catriona Crowe, and Laois/Offaly Mental Health Service Director of Nursing, PJ Lawlor.

The team are charged with examining the circumstances surrounding the death of Hannah Comber at Heatherside Hospital, near Buttevant, on June 22.

“The investigation committee shall have the power to review the scope, range and level of services provided by the HSE to Hannah Comber in Heatherside Hospital,” said a HSE spokeswoman.

In addition, it has the power to “examine any other matter that, in the opinion of the committee, has a direct relevance or bearing on the death of Hannah Comber.

Once the facts are established, the team will bring their findings in a report to members of the HSE’s Board of Directors.

“The report will be completed at the earliest possible opportunity,” the HSE spokeswoman added.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased patient.”

It emerged in recent weeks that the report from the hospital given to gardaí, following Ms Comber’s death, failed to mention that Ms Comber had accidentally slipped in the specialist chair, while strapped in.

It was not until a post mortem took place that it was revealed she died as a result of asphyxiation from a ligature on the chair.

Following her death, the 65-year-old was removed from the chair in which she died. She was then washed and her clothes were changed before gardaí arrived.

According to officials, this is in line with normal hospital procedures. Ms Comber had been resident at the hospital for 15 years.

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