MONTREAL -- The owners of Herron Residence, the seniors’ care home at the centre of a serious COVID-19 outbreak that left dozens of residents dead, are ceasing operations.

A letter was sent out by owners Groupe Katasa to families of the residents saying the long-term care facility in Montreal's Dorval borough would be placed under the management of the West Island regional health board (CIUSSS) as of Nov. 14. 

“This decision, which was not easy to make, can be explained by the current state of operations,” wrote manager Katherine Chowieri. While the owners state in their letter that the CIUSSS will provide ongoing care in the public system and residents will have the option to move to another private care facility, a statement by the regional health authority paints a different picture.

"The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) asked the (West Island CIUSSS) to maintain our offer of services to residents and to plan the relocation of all residents to new living environments on its territory," wrote health board president Lynne McVey. "This move will be carried out gradually over the next (six) to 12 months."

McVey said the health board would meet with residents and their families to help them determine their next steps and that the board would manage all care and services at the Herron until relocation is complete.

She acknowledged the transition would have a major effect on the Herron's staff but recruiters would meet with Herron employees who are interested in pursuing careers with the CIUSSS. 

“I would like to thank all those who have contributed, from near or far, to stabilizing the situation at CHSLD Herron. Thanks to your collaborative efforts, the situation has been under control for several months and residents are receiving the appropriate care and services to which they are entitled," she said. "Although the beginning of the transition period may represent a new source of concern for these residents and their families, I want to reassure you that our team will be able to care for them and support them during each of the steps to come, whether it be either during planning, during the move or when integrating them into their new living environments in our territory. "

Forty-six residents have died at the residence since March. Twelve of those are confirmed COVID-19 cases, and about 75 per cent of those living at Herron were infected.

Rent will be reimbursed for the remainder of November, Groupe Katasa said in its letter.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault’s government has accused Groupe Katasa of withholding critical information about resident deaths. Groupe Katasa has denied the premier’s allegations, saying they had reached out for help and the death count at Herron only increased after the West Island Health Authority took over on March 29.

An application to launch a class action lawsuit against the Herron Residence was filed in April.

Management at Groupe Katasa was not immediately available for comment.