Quebec takes charge of seniors' home after reports of death, unhygienic conditions
MONTREAL -- A Dorval long-term care facility is under provincial trusteeship after reports of residents being found malnourished, dehydrated and, in some cases, covered in feces.
Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann confirmed on Friday the province has taken control of the privately-run Residence Herron.
According to reports, police found several bodies at the residence. A spokesperson for Montreal police said they received a call on March 28 to transport a 95-year-old woman to hospital after she refused to leave. While there, Urgence Sante found the body of a person who the staff did not realize was deceased.
One resident told CTV News they had seen one to three bodies being removed in body bags per day for the last several days.
"I feel very uneasy," said Alan Price. "I'm in good health, but for how long, I don't know."
"The old staff, they're almost non-existant anymore. I see maybe five of the old staff. Everybody else is at home, staying away from here or have moved on."
Minister Responsible for Seniors and Caregivers Marguerite Blais confirmed there had been two deaths at the Herron over the last month but said another 18 deaths were not COVID-19 related.
However, a spokesperson for Urgence Sante said around the bodies of 15 people with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 had been removed from the residence since March 1.
In a statement, the local health authority said they asked the Health Ministry for the authority to take over management of the facility after becoming aware of the situation there.
"We have deployed a manager to the residence to ensure better control of the situation," they said. "Several measures have already been put in place, including the creation of a hot zone to isolate infected residents. We have also added staff and provided the additional protective equipment required.
"As for the specific situations mentioned when we were not yet in charge of the establishment: we will make all the necessary inquiries on how the patients were treated. Having said that, we are now responsible for the facility and we are working very hard to ensure that the residents have the best possible living conditions."
More than 150 people connected to the centre have tested positive for the virus.
“I was just informed. The CIUSSS took charge of this residence a few days ago,” said Blais. “I want to have a report on this. Of course, this is very preoccupying, but I do trust the CIUSSS has taken charge and is taking care of the people inside the residence.”
NEW PLAN FOR SENIORS RESIDENCES
With COVID-19 outbreaks present in over 150 of Quebec's long-term care facilities, the provincial government rolled out a new prevention plan for seniors' residences on Friday.
McCann and Blais introduced a new team of experts, which will be led by physician Quoc Dinh Nguyen, a geriatric internist who specializes in the epidemiology of aging.
The trio described an action plan that they said will be aggressively deployed in long-term care centres and private seniors' residences.
The team will be tasked with monitoring the situation in those facilities in real time, in order to react more quickly in environments where COVID-19 has spread.
In a statement, the government described several measures that will be taken to keep seniors in long-term care safe.
Blais defended the government's record on helping seniors during the pandemic.
“It's about saving lives. Sometimes to save lives, you have to adjust what you're doing,” said Blais.
The new measures include reallocating staff to facilities that need them, with a goal of limiting the number of people coming into contact with individual seniors. The plan also calls for increasing COVID-19 tests for both residents and staff, suspending new admissions and transfers between facilities and providing more protective equipment to all staff members.
Nguyen said Quebecers shouldn't expect to see an immediate change in the numbers of infected in seniors' residences.
“Nothing is going to change instantly because this is not a disease where the tendencies change instantly,” he said.
- With files from The Canadian Press