By: Mike Anderson
As the outbreak worsens at River Glen Haven Nursing Home, with the first COVID-19 death reported on May 6, family members of residents in the home are upset at the lack of communication from the home’s management.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care, which regulates all nursing homes in the province, including independently owned and operated homes like RGH, the mangement of RGH must have a communications plan to keep families informed.
However, there has been little evidence of this as anxious family members inundate the home with phone calls.
Although some family members have been able to call and get an update on their loved ones, others have reported difficulty getting through.
According to one PSW at RGH, who wished to remain anonymous, answering those calls has become an unwanted distraction.
“The phone is constantly ringing. Family wants to know what’s going on. But it’s taking away from the residents. Every-time we have to answer the phone,” she said.
“We don’t have anybody really in the office. To be honest, I don’t really know what to tell them about the test results.”
Not having a designated staff member to communicate with family members is raising anxiety and creating an information vacuum.
“I don’t feel that there’s real transparency there. It’s not operating the way it needs to be operating,” said Maureen McDermott, who’s mother is a resident on the first floor.
Ms. McDermott, like many other families, was waiting to get the results of her mother’s test. And, despite frequent calls, no one called her back.
According to Ms. McDermott, she waited ten days before finally getting a staff member on the phone to confirm that her mother was negative on May 6.
According to Patrick Casey, a spokesperson for York Region Public Health, test results should have been received by RGH within 72 hours of testing.
Mr. Casey said all residents were tested on April 27 and April 28 — so results would have been available by May 1 at the latest. There has been no further testing of residents, he added.
Ms. McDermott also had to make a formal complaint to the ministry before she received two email updates from RGH’s Recreational Director on May 6 & 7, confirming how many residents were infected and on what floors.
Then, on May 8, eleven days after the outbreak was reported, Jordan Kannampuzha, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of ATK Care Group Limited, finally issued a letter to the families of residents.
The letter contained no new information on the outbreak, nor contact information for Mr. Kannampuzha, instead it assured families that the home was in daily contact with York Region Public Health, Central LHIN, and following ministry guidelines.
Earlier this week, frustrated with the lack of information from RGH, Ms. McDermott started a Facebook group called “river glen haven resident families” to help family members share information.
“I’ve started the Facebook group specifically for families only, so that we have a sacred space to share our living grief,” she said. “And to share information just within ourselves. We’re talking about strategies, about what people are doing, who’s been complaining to ministries, and just sharing stories and trying to collectively advocate for our families.”
Ms. McDermott isn’t the only family member who is complaining about a lack of transparency from RGH during the outbreak.
“We’ve had no communication from management. This is unacceptable communication practice during a crisis,” wrote Liz Cyarto, a gerontologist from Melbourne Australia, with a mother on the second floor, and who’s sister found out from calling the home that only positive tests will be communicated to family members.
The Post called and emailed Karen Ryan, the administrator for RGH, repeatedly over the past week, without any response.
The Post has also requested an interview with Mr. Kannampuzha, but, as of posting, he has not responded.
The last post on the River Glen Haven Nursing Home Facebook page was on April 26, one day before the outbreak was reported on April 27.
ATK Care Group’s website also does not have any bulletins or new information regarding the outbreak.
The FB group page started by Ms. McDermott for families of residents at RGH can be viewed here.
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