Deceased man’s life savings disappear during hospital stay

Daniel MacEachern
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Edward Seymour never trusted banks.

The 59-year-old Harbour Round man was stubborn, according to his brother Kevin, and not just about his money. His stubbornness was why he refused to go to a hospital to get treatment for the brain tumour he’d been living with for years, until it killed him late last month. It was only when Edward collapsed at his house in early June that his family was able to get him admitted to the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre.

“We had to pick him up at his door. He fell and he collapsed on his bridge, and we had to pick him up and take him in an ambulance,” Kevin Seymour told The Telegram on Friday. Edward didn’t use banks, said Kevin, but he didn’t want to leave his life’s savings at home while he was in the hospital, so he brought it along. That’s why, when Edward was admitted to the hospital, among his personal effects was about $22,000 in cash, most of it stuffed in a wallet in a plastic bag, with just under $400 in loose bills, in a brown envelope, sealed with duct tape, that was put into a safe at the hospital.

“A lot of people around here are like that. They keeps their whole money at home,” said Kevin. “I don’t trust them too much. I have got a couple thousand in the bank. Enough to keep me bank book open, pay me light bill, phone bill, stuff like that, but I don’t keep every dollar in the bank.”

Three weeks later, after Edward died June 26, the brown envelope was still there — but there was only $220 left. “They left the envelope there, just took it out of the envelope and left the envelope there. The police dusted it for fingerprints,” said Kevin. “To rob that man, take his money out of his pocket, it wasn’t right to do that. The poor man was very sick.”

Kevin said he had offered to hold the money for his brother, but the tumour was affecting Edward’s lucidity. “I couldn’t get no sense to he. He’d just look at me and smile,” he said.

Messages left Friday at the health centre requesting comment from Tracey Comeau, director of health services, were not returned. Central Health spokeswoman Kim Cheeks said the health organization would not comment on an open police matter, but provided a written statement to media that said it is conducting its own investigation into the matter, and cautioned patients against bringing valuables with them to the hospital.

The RCMP said its investigation is focused on the hospital’s 89 employees, but non-employees haven’t been ruled out. “We had a meeting today (Friday) with some of the staff there,” Cpl. Ashley Coles said Friday. “We’re still in the process of narrowing it down to a more select group, and hopefully getting to the person or persons responsible.”

Everything Edward had was left to Kevin, who planned to use the money for Edward’s funeral arrangements. “If I could get it, I’d do up his grave. I’d do my other brother’s grave (Ambrose, who died in 1995). I’d do up my mother and father’s grave,” said Kevin, his voice breaking. “That’s my plan, to do up them four graves, and try to get headstones. It’s hurtful.”

He’s putting his faith in the police investigation, and he’s upset with hospital staff. “They said it’s safe, in a safe place. I said, ‘OK, my dear, if that’s a safe place, that’s all I wants to know.’ But I said, ‘Make sure that is in a safe place. If not, give it back to me.’ ‘No,’ they said, ‘that’s in a safe place.’ But it wasn’t in a safe place after all, was it?”

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre, The Telegram, RCMP

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Recent comments

  • In my view
    July 26, 2013 - 07:40

    @CAROGERS. If you read the whole piece it said," A lot of people around here are like that. They keeps their whole money at home." It had nothing to do with the brain tumour but more to do with keeping all that cash under a mattress, at it were, in their homes. Like someone else said, only a fool would do such a thing. It's 2013 for cryin' out loud!

  • Art
    July 22, 2013 - 07:04

    The story as written was very confusing about what exactly was missing. I reread it several times and still could not make sense of what amount was taken - it seemed to be only $180 from the wallet. Doesn't an editor proof read front page news items for clarity? I finally got the gist of the story from other news outlets. As to the story, its sad that someone was desperate enough to try and take advantage in such a context - I assume the hospital will take responsibility and reimburse the family in full.

  • david
    July 21, 2013 - 10:30

    The money didn't "disappear" as the headline was stolen, and almost certainly by a fellow Newfoundlander. Stop using evasive, passive, politically innocuous wording to avoid telling the disgusting, blatant truth.....this was a heinous thing to do,. and there are far too many Newfoundlanders quite willing and capable of doing it.

  • sherry
    July 21, 2013 - 09:14

    Why wasnt my comment added?

  • anthonysnow
    July 21, 2013 - 07:44

    going to be admitted ..if you have money its better you throw it out in the parking lot..some one will find it and try to locate the owner.. never leave it to the hospital safe..99% of employees have the combination..!!!

  • Bonnie
    July 20, 2013 - 16:42

    You can't trust anyone,,, they will steal your eyes and come back for the for the sockets..... And the people you think you can trust are the worst ones,,,,,, It's discussing....

  • Bonnie Moncheira
    July 20, 2013 - 16:18

    No matter where you go,,, they will steal your eyes and come back for the sockets... Unbelievable.... This world is gone to hell...... The people you expect to trust are the worst ones....

  • Disgusted
    July 20, 2013 - 12:13

    If the employees of Central Health took this man's money and secured it in the hospital safe, then Central Health should reimburse the stolen money and file a claim with their insurance. Shame on Central Health, they are responsible as their agents took the money and secured it in the safe.

  • paul
    July 20, 2013 - 12:10

    sadly, anyone with access to the safe is a suspect...and was there a chain of custody to even proove how much of that money went into the safe? without some kind of formal confirmation, it could have been filched before going into the safe. I'm thinking the hospital needs to also look at its protocols for holding patients personal effects...

  • Jane
    July 20, 2013 - 11:50

    I think that is very sad for someone to do that ,it was his money, I still thought they were people out there you could trust ,Why do some people or should i say person have to be so mean ,I hope they can get it back.

  • disgusted
    July 20, 2013 - 11:29

    What's happening to us?? Years ago we wouldn't lock our doors at night. We could trust people. Now we have alarm systems, lock our doors, be careful where we walk. It's getting worse. If they catch him/her, they will have to leave the town. I expect the old excuse, " I got caught up in the drugs "

  • abby
    July 20, 2013 - 10:46

    What a shame.So sorry for his family.These people are so trusting.

  • M. Atkinson
    July 20, 2013 - 10:38

    Whoever took thhis man's savings is a disgusting individual and I hope the police track this person and prosecute to the 'nth' degree of the law. Only the dregs of the earth would rob the sick and dying.

  • Mary
    July 20, 2013 - 10:26

    The hospital accounts dept. should have been called right away to count the money & place it in the safe with a receipt given to the patient. This is how it used to be done, so sad to think that his money is lost due to neglect on someones part.Usually one is allowed to keep no more then $20.00 on them and at their own risks. Hopefully it will be recovered as it was supposed to have been in a safe place. My condolences to his brother & family.

  • paula pynn
    July 20, 2013 - 10:24

    Something missing from the article - it says that there was $22,000 in a wallet and $400 in the envelope when Mr. Seymour was admitted. When he passed the envelope was still there but there was only $220 left. It does not say that the wallet was gone. If it was gone, then the headline makes complete sense. If it was still there then the loss of $180 is not "life savings". We should not have to "assume" facts when reading a news article. Aside from that, however, there are people everywhere that will do dishonest things for any number of reasons including a hospital. Anytime and anywhere there is temptation, someone will submit to it.

  • Steve
    July 20, 2013 - 08:56

    There is a thing called the "SNL2006 CHAPTER M-9.1 MENTAL HEALTH CARE AND TREATMENT ACT Amended: 2008 c19; 2008 c47 s12; 2011 cC-37.00001 s50 (not in force - therefore not included here); 2012 c33 s3 CHAPTER M-9.1 AN ACT RESPECTING MENTAL HEALTH CARE AND TREATMENT" The family should have taken time, care and control of the situation a long time ago.

  • In my view
    July 20, 2013 - 08:19

    I'm tempted the say he has no one to blame but himself. Not putting his money in the bank? Not even getting interest on that money? Carrying it around in a plastic bag or just leaving it around the house? Crazy!

    • carogers
      July 21, 2013 - 06:49

      The man was taken to hospital because he collapsed from a BRAIN TUMOR he was acting " crazy" because the tumor was affecting his mind, For the love of God the man was mentally was NOT his fault a thief stole money from a locked safe. Eastern Health is responsible. The patient is not responsible. He trusted Eastern Health to keep his money until he was able to leave the hospital. Blame the sick victim is a very cold attitude to display.

  • david
    July 20, 2013 - 06:25

    1) Paranoia and dementia are serious mental health issues. 2) Someone with all their mental faculties in order who would entrust a wad of cash to any Newfoundland hospital over a bank is simply a fool.

  • Fred from Brigus
    July 20, 2013 - 05:58

    Looks like the hospital did a poor accounting procedure. Any valuables left in their care should have been full documented and duly recorded. Some heads should roll on this one no ifs ands or buts.. I bet there are others valuables gone missing from other patients but have gone unnoticed. Looks like one person took the responsibility for the money so now they should ante up even if they did not take it.