Arden Krystal’s community update on Youtube, May 30

By: Mike Anderson

Despite Southlake’s two-week intervention at River Glen Haven, and its official take over of the LTC home on May 29, RGH continues to report an alarming number of deaths due to COVID-19.

As of May 30, 31 people have died at the 119-bed nursing home in Sutton, Ontario, making it the deadliest active outbreak in York Region — among active outbreaks, Villa Colombo Vaughan Di Poce Centre is reporting 20 deaths, while Woodbridge Vista Care Community is reporting 17 deaths.

River Glen Haven has a higher mortality rate than at least two of the five long-term care homes mentioned in the scathing observational report from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), released to the public by Premier Doug Ford last week.

River Glen Haven has a total of 86 confirmed resident cases with 31 deaths, which is a 36 per cent mortality rate. Orchard Villa in Pickering, one of the five homes where the CAF was deployed, has a 32 per cent mortality rate. In Scarborough, another home cited in the report, Eatonville Care Centre has a 29 per cent mortality rate.

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Southlake President & CEO Arden Krystal, in an update to the community, aired on Youtube on May 30, said that many of the horrific examples of abuse and neglect cited by the CAF report were not witnessed by her when she visited RGH, nor were they seen by her three-person team, led by Gayle Seddon, who spent two-weeks at RGH providing IPAC support and PPE training:

“To be clear there is no evidence of anything like this happening at River Glen … the staff are caring and compassionate,” she said.

But there are other similarities between RGH and the homes cited by the CAF report, which may account for the severity of the outbreak and the home’s high mortality rate.

According to the CAF report, all of the five homes, including Orchard Villa and Eatonville, had inadequate infection prevention and control (IPAC) practices, in some cases, positive residents were allowed to wander and infect other residents, negative residents were allowed to room with positive patients, and staff were not adequately trained in the use of PPE.

According to interviews conducted with family members and PSWs, The Post found that some of the same conditions existed at RGH, before Southlake’s take over from ATK Care Inc., the home’s owner.

The MLTC mandatory management order confirms The Post’s reporting and cites the following regarding IPAC assessments made by Southlake and York Region Public Health at RGH:

“The IPAC assessments … indicated that the LTC home overall had poor IPAC interventions in place, thereby failing to limit the spread of the disease. Staff were not using PPE appropriately (i.e. observed to be using multiple masks at a given time).

In addition, the LTC home was unable to cohort residents with COVID-19 from those residents who did not have COVID-19. There were also no clear areas within the LTC home that could have been identified for donning and doffing of PPE safely.”

According to the provincial order, the situation was so bad that Central LHIN filed a report with the Ministry of Labour citing staff were “not wearing PPE appropriately, not following PPE instructions and lacking in clinical skills.”

These severe deficiencies contributed to a high rate of resident and staff infections – 32 staff have, so far, tested positive, as well as high number of resident deaths, according to the provincial order.

While Ms. Krystal is not ruling out the possibility of more deaths at RGH, in an interview with The Post, she said that Southlake would take all the necessary steps to prevent them.

“We have to get in there and to do a really thorough resident by resident assessment. Certainly, we’re going to be putting more medical care in there as well, helping everybody who can recover, recover,” she said.

“But when you’re elderly and frail, viruses like these, whether it’s the flu or whether it’s COVID-19, take a toll. Our hope is that we can do our very best to keep people as well as they can be.”

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