Owner de­fends de­ci­sion to evict

Res­i­dent of Bay Roberts Re­tire­ment Cen­tre must be out this week


The owner of a re­tire­ment com­plex in Bay Roberts is de­fend­ing a de­ci­sion to evict a fe­male res­i­dent, say­ing her fail­ure to com­ply with strict non- smok­ing reg­u­la­tions could not be tol­er­ated.

Jerry Kirby of the Kirby Group of Com­pa­nies, who man­ages the Bay Roberts Re­tire­ment Cen­tre on Coun­try Road, told The Com­pass April 17 that smok­ing in the fa­cil­ity is pro­hib­ited, and re­peated oc­cur­rences are grounds for re­moval.

“I was in­volved (with this sit­u­a­tion) from start to fin­ish, and I am more than com­fort­able with ev­ery­thing that was done,” Kirby stated in a phone in­ter­view.

“Life safety is the most im­por­tant thing,” Kirby added. “If we have some­one who de­cides to smoke in their room, it’s a safety con­cern.”

Irene Boone, 69, was given a 30day evic­tion no­tice on March 26 af­ter she was caught with a lit cig­a­rette in her room.

Boone con­tacted The Com­pass in or­der to share her story, al­leg­ing un­fair treat­ment. She in­sisted the one time she smoked was af­ter a slip-and-fall in­ci­dent March 20. The fall out­side the fa­cil­ity led to a bro­ken arm.

“When I broke my arm, I had a smoke,” Boone ex­plained. “I know I did wrong, but it was to calm my nerves.”

How­ever, Kirby said there were “nu­mer­ous” in­frac­tions, and ac­tion had to be taken.

“(The Bay Roberts lo­ca­tion) has never had an evic­tion,” he said. “But when one sin­gle is­sue over­pow­ers ev­ery­thing (there’s a rea­son to do so).”

The cen­tre opened four years ago, and Kirby said this is a first time a res­i­dent has been evicted.

Kirby’s com­pany man­ages 10 res­i­den­tial care fa­cil­i­ties: six in New­found­land and four in the Mar­itimes. He said this is only the sec­ond in­ci­dent where a smok­ing-re­lated evic­tion had to be given in any of those fa­cil­i­ties.

“If they are remorseful, hand over their cig­a­rettes and say they will never do it again, it’s one thing. If that doesn’t hap­pen, there’s a point we have to deal with it,” he said.

Kirby said smok­ing is a sig­nif­i­cant risk to the health of oth­ers, and pointed to a fire at a se­niors’ home in Bas-Saint-Lau­rent, Que., this past Jan­uary that killed some 30 people. Smok­ing was listed as the likely cause of the fire. “It was just dev­as­tat­ing,” he said. A spokesper­son for the De­part- ment of Health, Blair Medd, said evic­tions are not com­mon.

“Evic­tion from a (per­sonal care home) or a long term care fa­cil­ity (nurs­ing home) is a rare oc­cur­rence and typ­i­cally oc­curs when a res­i­dent has re­peat­edly dis­played ac­tions or be­hav­iours that pose sig­nif­i­cant risk to other res­i­dents in the home,” he said.

There are 45 res­i­dents liv­ing at the Bay Roberts Re­tire­ment Cen­tre, and up­wards of 18 staff. Kirby said he wouldn’t chance the lives of those people.

When a per­son is caught smok­ing in any of Kirby’s fa­cil­i­ties, East­ern Health is con­tacted and the res­i­dent speaks with a coun­sel­lor. There are nurses from the health author­ity at the fa­cil­ity sev­eral times a week, so if is­sues arise, the res­i­dent will have some­one to speak with.

On re­peated dis­re­gard of the smok­ing pol­icy, the RCMP is called.

Boone said she got a fright when an of­fi­cer ar­rived at her room af­ter the in­ci­dent.

“There was a knock on my door, and there was a Moun­tie fully dressed to the nines,” she ex­plained. “He said he was go­ing to put me out on the side­walk. I was scared.”

The evic­tion let­ter, a copy of which was ob­tained by The Com­pass, refers to “con­tin­ued unco-oper­a­tion in re­gards to smok­ing in your room,” and in­formed Boone there was “no choice but to have a so­cial worker find you a more suit­able place­ment.”

Boone re­mains adament that she vi­o­lated the non-smok­ing pol­icy only once.

Mean­while, she has plans to move into an apart­ment in St. John’s.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/the Com­pass

Irene Boone holds the evic­tion no­tice she re­ceived on March 26 from own­ers of the Bay Roberts Re­tire­ment Cen­tre.

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