Se­niors’ res­i­dence like ‘con­cen­tra­tion camp’

Vancouver Sun - - PAN­DEMIC - AARON DERFEL

MON­TREAL • A pri­vately run se­niors’ res­i­dence in the Mon­treal sub­urb of Dor­val that is grap­pling with a COVID-19 out­break has been de­scribed as a “con­cen­tra­tion camp” — with un­fed and soiled el­derly res­i­dents in­side — by health pro­fes­sion­als who came to their res­cue, a Mon­treal Gazette in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found.

The West Is­land health au­thor­ity placed the Rési­dence Her­ron un­der trustee­ship on March 29. At the Her­ron, two peo­ple have died, 20 res­i­dents have been quar­an­tined and 154 are sus­pected of be­ing in­fected with COVID-19. What has not been re­ported un­til now is ex­actly why the long-term care home was placed un­der trustee­ship.

A res­i­dent of the Her­ron, which charges $6,000 to $10,000 a month, was feel­ing un­well two weeks ago and took it upon her­self to go to St. Mary’s Hos­pi­tal in Côte-des-neiges to be tested for COVID-19, sources told the Gazette.

Pend­ing the re­sults of the test, the woman was deemed well enough to re­turn home that day, in line with gov­ern­ment pro­to­cols. When the re­sult came back pos­i­tive, a nurse at St. Mary’s sought in vain to reach the woman at the Her­ron, even af­ter try­ing to go through the ad­min­is­tra­tion at the res­i­dence.

The nurse de­cided to con­tact the Mon­treal pub­lic health de­part­ment to try to find the in­fected res­i­dent. Po­lice also got in­volved.

When the pub­lic health of­fi­cials and po­lice ar­rived at the Her­ron, they found no one in the build­ing who was in a po­si­tion of au­thor­ity, the sources said.

“More im­por­tantly, the place was de­scribed as some­thing akin to a con­cen­tra­tion camp,” said a source who agreed to be in­ter­viewed on con­di­tion of anonymity.

“There were (two) pa­tients who were dead in their beds,” the source added. “Their deaths had not been rec­og­nized. There were pa­tients who had fallen on the floor. There were pa­tients who hadn’t had any ba­sic care for a num­ber of days, di­a­pers that hadn’t been changed for three or four days, ex­cre­ment that was cov­er­ing their skin and pa­tients who hadn’t been fed.

“Their whole sec­ond floor was in­fested with COVID,” the source con­tin­ued. “It was a hot floor. And there were just two or­der­lies for the en­tire (137-bed) in­sti­tu­tion.”

Nurses dis­cov­ered that some pa­tients were so de­hy­drated, their mouths so dry, they were un­able to speak at first, the sources said. One pa­tient was triple-di­a­pered with fe­ces seep­ing out. There are con­cerns some records on med­i­ca­tions may have been fal­si­fied.

Be­fore the pan­demic struck, there were more or­der­lies at the Her­ron, but they lacked per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment, the source said.

Samir Em­i­lie Chowieri, pres­i­dent of Katasa Groupe in charge of the Her­ron, was un­avail­able for com­ment on Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to his wife.

Kather­ine Chowieri, a spokes­woman for Katasa Groupe, told City News on Wed­nes­day that “it is ob­vi­ous that we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some dif­fi­culty staffing dur­ing these un­prece­dented times. We are try­ing our best to keep our staff pro­tected dur­ing their work shifts and pay­ing them bonuses.”

“No mat­ter the amount of staff on the floor, we al­ways as­sure that ser­vices are given to our res­i­dents and that they are fed, but it may take longer than usual to as­sist,” she added.

Af­ter the dis­cov­ery at the Her­ron, a physi­cian pulled her own mother out of the res­i­dence, the source said.

“My con­cern is that there are still peo­ple there who will now get bet­ter care than they did be­fore, but fam­i­lies had no idea what was go­ing on,” the source said. “And if they knew, maybe, maybe they would want to get their loved ones out of there.”

The Her­ron is among 15 pub­lic and pri­vate se­niors’ in­sti­tu­tions on the West Is­land that have been hit hard by COVID-19. There are at least 460 sus­pected cases in the se­niors’ homes.

The worst out­break has oc­curred in the 202-bed Cen­tre d’héberge­ment de Lasalle, where 20 peo­ple have died, 22 other in­fected res­i­dents have been quar­an­tined and where there are 54 sus­pected cases, ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­nal gov­ern­ment doc­u­ment cir­cu­lated on Thurs­day.

Across the street, the longterm care unit at Lasalle Hos­pi­tal has re­ported a to­tal of 14 deaths, 25 con­firmed cases and 77 sus­pected ones.

On Mon­day, a re­frig­er­ated truck was spot­ted out­side Lasalle Hos­pi­tal, but of­fi­cials from the West Is­land au­thor­ity did not re­ply im­me­di­ately to queries on whether it was be­ing used to store bod­ies — a last-re­sort prac­tice at some hos­pi­tals in New York City.

It took the West Is­land CIUSSS five days to con­firm its use.

“Like other CIUSSSES in Que­bec, the West Is­land CIUSSS has proac­tively planned a tem­po­rary morgue,” spokesper­son Ari­adne Bour­bon­nière re­sponded in an email Fri­day morn­ing.

“If the som­bre prog­no­sis of a very high num­ber of deaths were to ma­te­ri­al­ize, the CIUSSS could thus treat the re­mains in a man­ner as dig­ni­fied as pos­si­ble un­til fu­neral homes could take care of them.”


Paramedics wheel a res­i­dent out of Rési­dence Her­ron in Dor­val, Que., on Wed­nes­day.

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