LETHBRIDGE, AB – The mother of a young woman, who died at a Lethbridge YWCA residence earlier this month, is searching for answers.
Melody St. Pierre says she last spoke with her 25 year old daughter, Krissy, on Aug. 31.
They were supposed to meet at 7pm that evening, two hours after Krissy had taken her first dose of methadone at a local pharmacy.
She had told her mom she was getting off drugs, even though Krissy had reportedly said it was difficult to do while living in the YWCA facility because “everybody there, just about, does drugs.”
Krissy didn’t show up to meet her mom on Tuesday evening as planned.
St. Pierre says she called and texted her daughter’s phone several times and didn’t get a reply. She says she also called the YWCA to check in and was told Krissy had complained early on Sept. 1 that she wasn’t feeling well and that she was going out to get a COVID test.
She made multiple calls to the YWCA over the following days and claims each time the response was the same, that staff hadn’t seen Krissy.
Then, on Sept. 7, a week after she last spoke with her daughter, St. Pierre was informed Krissy had been found dead on the floor of her room at the YWCA.
St. Pierre says she doesn’t know how her daughter died (she later learned Krissy’s COVID test had come back positive), when she died, or if anyone had checked in on her over the course of that week.
She says the Medical Examiner’s Office called her to ask if Krissy had seen a dentist in the past two years, in an effort to identify her body, as “she was so badly decomposed she had no fingerprints.”
St. Pierre says she enrolled Krissy in the YWCA residency program, at $1,000 per month, back in February, 2021.
She was told the program offered a place to live, provided three meals and three snacks a day, and boasted an on-site nurse.
St. Pierre says she was initially told that if a resident didn’t answer the door at mealtime, staff would go inside the room and leave the meal in the refrigerator, as a “sneaky way” to do wellness checks.
Now, she’s questioning if anyone checked on her daughter that week or simply knocked on the door and left.
She says “they knew she had taken her first dose of methadone and came down the next morning saying she didn’t feel well. That to me, especially if they have a nurse on staff, somebody go check.”
“I’m really hoping she just OD’d and was gone … because with her saying she wasn’t feeling good and me as a mom, I have this horrible, horrible thought that she was laying there and she couldn’t get to the phone, and she heard my ringtone and she laid there crying and scared.”
When asked if wellness checks are conducted and if they are, how often, Acting CEO of the YWCA, Tracy James, told MyLethbridgeNow that its permanent supportive housing program isn’t monitored 24 hours a day and residents can come and go as they please.
She says “we do checks multiple times a day but they’re not invasive. These are their homes so we can’t go into their rooms unless invited but if they’re not there, we will do wellness checks whether we think they’re there or not, we still open the door and still do those checks.”
In the case of Krissy, she claims staff could not see her body when they performed the checks.
As MyLethbridgeNow first reported on Sept. 20, the recent deaths of three women at YWCA run properties, including Krissy, are under investigation.
James says the the YWCA is “devastated by the deaths and our condolences go out to the families. Everybody is grieving at this time.”
She adds the deaths are non-criminal but drug use is suspected, and that the organization is launching an internal review of its policies and processes. She says it’s a matter of protocol in any serious incident.
The Lethbridge Police Service has confirmed there is no ongoing investigation into the deaths at the YWCA.
As for St. Pierre, she says she wants answers and she wants closure, adding she hasn’t let herself cry over her daughter’s death yet, as she’s vowed to first get to the truth of what happened.
“It sounded like a wonderful program but somewhere, something terrible went wrong here. This is not OK.”