MONTREAL -- A damning report into the situation at the Herron CHSLD at the beginning of the pandemic calls on the province to revoke private care-home permits and ensure their level of care is the same as public institutions.

In the Herron COVID-19 outbreak last spring, 31 residents died. The report, by three Quebec professional orders governing health-care workers, found the situation was "out of control."

At one point there was only one nurse left to care for about 100 patients, it said, since staff had been told not to come to work if they showed symptoms of COVID-19 or if they came into contact with someone who tested positive.

A public inquiry into Herron is on hold until the fall, and the owners of the home are also facing a class-action lawsuit.

But on Tuesday, the joint report by the bodies overseeing doctors and nurses in Quebec was released. 

It said the provincial government doesn’t have enough legal power to intervene into problematic private CHSLDs in the province. The minister responsible for seniors should have the power to revoke the licenses for private long-term care residences, according to one of the report’s 31 recommendations. 

The report puts the blame for the situation at Herron on the home's managers, not its employees.

The owners, however, say they didn’t receive enough support from the West Island health authority. 

Quebec Premier Francois Legault’s government has accused the home's owners, the Groupe Katasa, of withholding critical information about residents' deaths. 

Groupe Katasa has denied the premier’s allegations, saying they had reached out for help and that the death count at Herron only increased after the West Island Health Authority took over on March 29.

A SINGLE NURSE ON DUTY

When staff with symptoms were told to stay home, that quickly included nearly the entire nursing workforce at Herron. By late March, 11 of 12 nurses had contracted the virus. 

"This instruction was given without regard to whether there were enough staff to meet basic care and support needs," the report said.

The staffing shortages translated into a deterioration of care for the residents, with many elderly patients in a state of hydration and left in soiled clothing for extended periods of time. 

The report, which was delivered to Quebec’s minister for seniors last week, also probed Montreal's geriatric institute and found the care was adequate despite the outbreak. 

The ministry of health released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying it welcomes the report's recommendations. 

NEW MEASURES IN PLACE: PROVINCE

Many of the recommendations have already been implemented, according to the statement, including the creation of a reserve of personal protective equipment and hiring thousands of of employees in CHSLDs. 

“The recommendations contained in this report are very enlightening and will improve the quality of care and services offered to our seniors in shelters over the next few years," said a statement from Health Minister Christian Dube.

"Measures have already been taken since last spring, but we will continue work, together with our partners from the three professional orders, to ensure the quality of care and services provided in all CHSLDs in Quebec, whether they are public or private."