Licence reviews probe hard-hit care homes

The results of a provincial probe into one of Manitoba's deadliest personal-care home outbreaks remain unknown, even as the health department puts the private facility's licence under review.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/01/2021 (790 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The results of a provincial probe into one of Manitoba’s deadliest personal-care home outbreaks remain unknown, even as the health department puts the private facility’s licence under review.

Maples Personal Care Home in Winnipeg is one of three personal-care homes in Manitoba currently having its licence reviewed because it hasn’t been able to keep up with provincial standards, a government spokesperson confirmed Monday. But the province has yet to disclose the findings of a review it commissioned last fall.

Lynn Stevenson, a former nurse and B.C. deputy health minister, was tasked with looking into the operations of the Revera Inc. personal care home after a “nightmare” situation unfolded at Maples in early November. An anonymous paramedic’s social media post on Reddit described residents dying at the chronically understaffed facility, some being left hungry and dehydrated while others were “being literally left to rot.” It prompted then-Health Minister Cameron Friesen to promise a review of the facility’s operations.

More than a month after a preliminary report was completed following the review, the province says it will not be publicly released, but that changes have already been put in place for staffing, infection control and safe visits. The final report was expected this month.

“In her preliminary report, Dr. Stevenson noted that many changes had already been implemented as part of improvements made to the planning and response to current and potential COVID-19 outbreaks,” a provincial spokesperson responded to the Free Press Monday, saying the paramedic rapid response team, community IV program and on-site clinical leads that the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority recently implemented addressed some of the review’s findings. Health Incident Command teams are working with long-term care home leadership across the province to address other preliminary findings, the spokesperson wrote.

The findings will be important to families whose loved ones live, or have died, at Maples, but taking action to prevent future deaths should be a higher priority, said Joann Kubas, whose mother-in-law is a Maples care home resident.

“What is their action plan moving forward is kind of what we’d like to know. What safety measures are in place now that weren’t in place before so that this should never happen again? That’s what you want to see happen, right, is that nobody has to go through what we’ve just all been through — and some of us worse than others,” Kubas said, expressing her sympathy to families who’ve lost relatives during the pandemic.

Kubas said her family was interviewed by health officials before Christmas about their experience with Maples, but wasn’t informed the province had concerns about the facility’s ability to operate under provincial standards for personal care homes.

The care home’s licence was put under review Dec. 11, along with the licence for Parkview Place personal care home. Both Revera facilities have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19, and the pandemic has spotlighted under-staffing and issues with the quality of care. Nisichawayasihk Personal Care Home in Nelson House had its licence put under review Nov. 27. All three care homes have to submit regular status updates to the province that show they’re meeting provincial standards. The licence reviews are rare in Manitoba, and none have been revoked in the past decade, according to a provincial spokesperson.

Maples and Parkview Place personal care homes are the only two long-term care facilities in the province that are currently prohibited from accepting new residents, even though their COVID-19 outbreaks have ended. In a statement, the WRHA said it requested a plan from both homes to make sure appropriate staffing levels and other processes are in place before more people move in.

Twenty other personal-care homes are currently not admitting new residents because of ongoing outbreaks.

There have been more than 2,000 COVID-19 cases in Manitoba’s personal care homes, and as of Monday, 399 residents had died across the province.

Opposition leaders called on the province to release the report’s findings into the Maples tragedy without delay.

Revera must be held accountable for its actions, Manitoba New Democrats said, and the provincial government needs to release an unredacted version of the report.

“I’m sure that the report will be difficult. It will be difficult for the families to be reminded of this incident. It will be difficult for all of us as Manitobans hearing the terrible details. I’m sure that there will be damning findings about the company in question, and very likely there will be troubling findings about this government’s failure to protect seniors in that facility. But we have to have those answers so that we can learn the lessons that this incident has to offer,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said the province does not have to wait to receive a report to take action. He said it was unacceptable that officials at the care home lied about what was occurring there. (In November, Revera acknowledged it provided inaccurate details about staffing levels at Maples).

“Why are we tolerating it? We shouldn’t be.”

Lamont said that in the 1990s a Progressive Conservative government replaced the entire management of a personal care home after a single death at the facility.

In a statement, Revera said it is “working closely” with Manitoba Health and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority on the licence review process.

“We are committed to addressing any issues or concerns raised in our discussions as soon as possible,” Revera spokesman Larry Roberts wrote in an email.

— with files from Danielle Da Silva, Larry Kusch and Michael Pereira

Twitter: @thatkatiemay

Katie May

Katie May

Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.


Updated on Monday, January 25, 2021 7:15 PM CST: Adds thumbnail photo.

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