Senior dies after violent altercation at long-term care home in Thetford Mines, Que.

An elderly patient at a long-term care home in central Quebec died last month after an altercation with another patient, sparking a police investigation and coroner's investigation.

Carole Mercier, the president of the union that represents health-care workers at CHSLD Saint-Alexandre in Thetford Mines, Que., where the altercation occurred, said the care home had too many patients and insufficient staff the night of the incident.

"We think the death could have been avoided if the boss had listened to the nurses," she said. "They've been claiming for one year that it's dangerous because there are too many residents."

Mercier said the altercation took place just after 11 p.m. on June 18, when a patient went into another's room, possibly by accident, surprising them. The residence is home to patients with cognitive issues, including Alzheimer's and dementia.

That night there were only two staff members for 27 patients in that section of the residence when, normally, there should have been just 12 patients, she said.

The injured patient died four days later. The coroner's office is investigating, along with provincial police, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

But an SQ spokesperson said the evidence thus far indicated that the victim had not died as a result of any criminal act.

A spokesperson for Sonia Bélanger, the minister responsible for seniors, called the situation "revolting."

"No one should have to go through this," the spokesperson said in a statement. "Facilities must take measures to meet the needs of residents, particularly in terms of health and safety, but also of employees. Our deepest condolences go out to the family."

Mercier, the union president, said staff at CHSLD Saint-Alexandre had been concerned about low staffing levels for a long time.

"Changes weren't made but now, like magic, they're happening since the unfortunate incident," she said.