Esther Elsa Winckler

November 17, 1922 – March 5, 2000

The final tragic chapter of our mother’s life pales against the rich life she led as a teacher, mother, wife, and friend. Born in Hamiota, Manitoba; educated at the University of Manitoba; a home economics teacher in Nelson and Vancouver; a homemaker in North Vancouver; and a retiree who loved cooking, reading, puttering in her Lindell Beach garden, and preparing for her next long cruise to international ports, Esther Winckler lived life fully. She died at 77, predeceasing her three sisters and brother of 99, 96, 92 and 95 respectively.

We are changed now, not because she left us, but because she touched us.

There was something that the Coroner said from the very beginning that has stuck with us; something that leads us to believe that somehow Esther’s story will be heard and that sense will come from the seemingly senseless. The Coroner said that they were there, not to act for the doctors, the nurses, the hospital, the associations, or even the family. They were there to be ‘Esther’s voice’ – to hear the story that she had to tell us in death, the story she was incapable of telling over her 15-day ordeal at Chilliwack General Hospital.

And so we called this website Esther’s Voice — initially a place where family and her many friends across Canada could find out what happened to this wonderful feisty and articulate senior. Today our family is gratified to hear from many health care professionals who tell us they use this site as a teaching tool and a real-world case study that can be referred to as an example of what can happen in the face of medical error, schisms in the provision of continuity of care, and an inhumane disregard for the special needs of seniors in our medical system.


“Take a few minutes to read the Chief Coroner’s report from the inquiry into [Esther Winckler’s] death… it speaks to the vitally important combination of information, communication, professional skill, accountability and quality management that must exist if our health system is to perform reliably every time. Then, whether you are a physician, a nurse, a CEO, a CIO, or policymaker, ask yourself: What will you personally be doing in the next month that will ultimately help prevent a recurrence of Esther’s tragedy?”

Incoming President of COACH in inaugural column, ‘Esther’s Voice Speaks to Us All.’

“Esther’s story is part of everything we’ve done, and will continue to do… instead of talking about a contrived and fictional case study, we talk about Esther – a real person that we failed to help. We’ve all encountered someone like Esther, we’re all going to be someone like Esther, and that makes it personal.”

Marcia Carr(RN, BN, MS, GNC (C), NCA, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Fraser Health, co-founder of GENI and ACGNN.

“Esther’s story has truly been a catalyst for change at Chilliwack Hospital, and within the leadership of Fraser Health there is a strong commitment to improve the system so that we can fulfill our promise of quality to those we care for; your Mum’s story is a central feature of this.”

Cathy WeirFormer Director of Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, Fraser Health