MONTREAL -- Groupe Katasa management sent a letter to Premier Francois Legault Tuesday signed by co-owner Katherine Chowieri accusing West Island’s Health and Social Services of giving misleading information to the government about the 31 deaths at Maison Herron long-term care facility in Dorval Que.

In the letter to the premier, Chowieri refutes Legault’s claim that a number of the 31 deaths were recorded between March 13 and 29, and that the Herron management hid information.

She writes that almost all of the deaths at the facility occurred after the West Island Health and Social Services (CIUSSSOIM) took guardianship of the home March 29.

“Given that 28 of these deaths occurred at CHSLD Herron since March 13, 2020 were after March 29, 2020, you will understand that it is impossible that the representatives of the CIUSSSOIM were not aware of this situation since they exercise guardianship over the establishment and are physically present there in large numbers every day,” she wrote.

A graph attached to the letter shows the majority of the deaths at Herron occurring between April 4 and 12.

Graph of deaths at Maison Herron

The letter and accompanying documents came the day after other documents detailed a war of words going back-and-forth between Herron management and Health and Social Services on the West Island of Montreal.

The letter claims that it was the CIUSSS that hid information from the premier and not Herron management. 

“Worse still, the representatives of the CIUSSSOIM seem to have also claimed to you and to Ministers (Danielle) McCann and (Marguerite) Blais that they could not enter CHSLD Herron before April 8, 2020 and that all of these deaths were recorded between March 13 and March 29, 2020, i.e. before the guardianship, which is contrary to reality,” the letter reads.

Chowieri insists that the establishment did not hide any information as Legault claimed in his daily briefing. She writes that all patient files at Herron are on the care floor and accessible to employees at all times.

“I was at the scene and I personally discussed this situation with representatives of the CIUSSSOIM. They knew exactly where all the files were,” she wrote.

She writes that management from the CIUSSS left at 3 p.m. every day, CIUSSSOIM CEO Lynne McVey did not respond to requests to hold meetings until April 11, and collaboration efforts were not mutual. The letter also claims CIUSSS staff did not respect protective equipment guidelines or create hot, lukewarm and cold zones for COVID-19 patients.

A March 29 email from McVey and letter from March 30 reads that “all of the residents of Maison Herron were at high risk, and that their safety and well-being had been compromised” requiring the CIUSSS West Island to take over the facility.

“We do not have confidence at this time in your ability to ensure the safety of residents who, especially in a health crisis, should be given priority. In addition, your decision yesterday to transfer several residents to the Lakeshore General Hospital Emergency Department runs counter to ministerial directives and the Quebec pandemic plan,” writes McVey, who entrusted Brigitte Auger to manage Herron.

Chowieri’s letter accuses McVey and her staff of failing to work with Herron staff, and that Herron employees were neither provided with a list of who had tested positive for COVID-19, nor that treatments were administered without consulting medical records.

“No communication was made to the families of the residents by the representatives of the CIUSSSOIM, despite numerous requests made to that effect by the employees as well as members of the management of the CHLSD Herron,” the letter reads.

The letter concludes by offering full support from Katasa to the Legault government.

“Rest assured that despite the current situation at CHSLD Herron with the supervision exercised by the CIUSSSOIM and the significant disagreements that we have with the representatives and leaders of the CIUSSSOIM, we are ready to work in close collaboration with them to help residents,” writes Chowieri.