Families shaken as questions multiply over deaths in Dorval, Quebec

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Premier François Legault sought Monday to reassure Quebecers that health officials will protect seniors in the province amid growing questions over government oversight of a private nursing home in the west from the island of Montreal where 31 people died in the space of a month.

On March 29, the local health authority, the West Island CIUSSS, took over the management of the CHSLD Herron in Dorval in the West Island of Montreal, after its administration asked for help due to a severe shortage of staff.

Health workers sent to Herron told CBC they found a horrible situation, with residents who are not nourished, dehydrated and untreated, and those with COVID-19 symptoms who are not isolated from others.

CHSLD Herron is now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Montreal police, as well as a coroner’s investigation.

A recently released coroner’s report on the suffocating death of a 94-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease at Herron’s home in 2017 reports long-standing flaws.

Diana Pinet’s death was deemed accidental. However, the coroner found that, although there was an opportunity to perform the Heimlich maneuver or other intervention after Pinet vacuumed his food, “it did not seem to have happened.”

A staff member who was present told the coroner that she did not have the power to call 911.

Perhaps equally disturbing was the lack of transparency in the administration.

“Major negligence”

Coroner Julie-Kim Godin found that the Herron had not completed an incident report on the death of Pinet, and the few existing records provided little information. Godin wrote that she had tried to contact the director of CHSLD Herron and his risk management department but had never received a response.

The regional health agency and the Quebec Department of Health told the coroner that their recommendations had never been adopted. They said the institution “probably did not have a risk management department.”

Watch: Announcement of New Federal Guidelines for Long-Term Care Homes

Politicians and public health officials pledged new measures to further protect residents and workers in long-term care homes as facilities grappled with “horrible” epidemics of COVID-19 over the weekend weekend. 3:50

Likewise, in recent days, the West Island health agency has cited the non-collaboration of the owners of the Herron as a problem, since the house collapsed in this pandemic, causing what the Prime Minister called it “gross negligence”.

The Dorval facility is owned by Katasa Group, a company based in Gatineau, Quebec, owned by Samir Chowieri and his three daughters. The company operates a total of seven senior care facilities across the province.

The Katasa group did not return a request for comment on Monday.

In a statement released this weekend, the company said that its employees had made “extraordinary efforts” since the start of the COVID-19 crisis and that their calls for help had been ignored by the regional agency. health.

“We hope that the attention generated by our situation will reveal the lack of support from the West Island CIUSSS for teams working in CHSLDs,” said the press release.

Herron bills enough “to pay well,” says Legault

Legault explained on Monday how the COVID-19 epidemic had created a “domino effect” for an already pressurized long-term care home system.

Legault acknowledged that staffing shortages have been an issue for years in long-term care homes across the province, particularly in private facilities. On April 2, Legault announced that workers in these private nursing homes, many of whom earn little more than the minimum wage, would receive an additional $ 4 per hour.

Even before the crisis, he said, the province had worked on a funding agreement that would have raised the wages of personal care workers and other workers in private long-term care facilities.

But in the case of CHSLD Herron, he said, any suggestion of a lack of funding was “no excuse for me”.

“Herron charges residents between $ 3,000 and $ 10,000 a month, so they have to be able to pay their people well with that kind of money. “

Legault said inspections have been carried out in Quebec’s 40 private and independent CHSLDs – the French acronym for long-term care facilities that house people with the highest needs.

Legault said residents are treated well for the majority, but four or five of these 40 residences will be monitored more closely.

Protective equipment personnel work inside CHSLD Herron. The local health authority took control of the residence. (Ivanoh Demers / Radio-Canada)

The province will now inspect all long-term care homes in the province, both public and private, to make sure the conditions are acceptable, he said.

“Even if the situation is far from perfect for the moment, I want to reassure you, in the vast majority of CHSLDs and residences, people are taken care of by dedicated staff, and where the situation is critical, we send people. ”

Legault said 450 doctors are deployed to nursing homes to help deal with the crisis.

In an open letter of four pages to the Minister of Health Danielle McCann, the association representing private long-term care residences in Quebec, the AELDPQ, tried to distance herself from the situation of the CHSLD Herron, qualifying it of “deplorable and unacceptable”.

Other than that, the rest of the letter, sent on Sunday, describes a situation facing the residences of AELDPQ members that reflects the allegations of the Katasa Group.

Watch: Legault Talks About What He Believes Happened at Herron Long-Term Care Home

Premier of Quebec François Legault recounts what he says happened at Herron long-term care home in Dorval, where 31 patients have died in the past month. 1:43

The AELDPQ said that the Legault government had repeatedly failed to provide a boost to the funding of private long-term care residences promised in March 2019 and emergency funds to help retirement homes cope to the pandemic by purchasing personal protective equipment and always hiring more staff. did not show up.

The letter criticized Legault for having chosen private CHSLDs when the government regularly “buys” beds in these same residences at low cost for patients waiting for a place in a public establishment.

A spokesperson for the West Island CIUSSS said that the government is paying 30 beds for the CHSLD Herron.

Lack of communication

Families with relatives still at CHSLD Herron, on the other hand, expressed their skepticism about the improvement of conditions under the supervision of the local health authority.

Patrizia Di Biase-Leone and her husband, Franco Leone, visited the house daily to greet the mother of Di Biase-Leone, 97, from her second-floor window.

Antonietta Pollice, 97, lives on the second floor of the CHSLD Herron. Her daughter and her husband come to the window daily to signal her. (Submitted by Patrizia Di Biase-Leone)

They have not been allowed entry since March 13, when the province prohibited families from CHSLDs to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“We need communications. We have to have a picture of what’s going on there, ”said Leone.

“The number of bodies may not be finished. This is our biggest concern. “

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