Photo Georgina Post

By: Mike Anderson

A personal support worker (PSW) at River Glen Haven Nursing Home in Sutton has been charged with assault, according to York Regional Police.

Bruce Lanktree, 40, a resident of Sutton, was arrested and charged by YRP on April 26, following an incident at the nursing home on February 5, in which he was alleged to have placed his hand over a 82-year-old woman’s mouth to prevent her from screaming, according to Sgt. Andy Pattenden, a YRP spokesperson.

At that time, Mr. Lanktree was also President of CUPE local 2730, the bargaining unit representing workers at River Glen Haven.

The assault charge and accusations of abuse towards four residents, including the 82-year-old woman, are cited by a Ministry of Long-Term Care (MLTC) Inspection Report published on June 10, which followed an on-site investigation conducted by Romela Villaspir, a ministry inspector, over seven days in mid-to-late May.

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Ms. Villaspir states that Mr. Lanktree, referred to as PSW #101 in the report, allegedly abused four residents for over 18 months without being detected by the home’s management.

While the inspection report does not provide detail about the nature of the abuse, Ms. Villaspir states that “the severity of this issue was a level 2,” as “there was minimal harm to residents.” The ministry rates the severity of abuse on a scale of 1 to 4, with 2 being minimal harm or minimal risk.

According to the report, the alleged abuse was witnessed by a co-worker, also a PSW, while performing care rounds with Mr. Lanktree.

However, the co-worker waited 18 months to file a written complaint with her supervisor.

“The witness failed to report the abuse in fear of retaliation from the abuser. The witness admitted that the actions constituted abuse, and decided not to report and instead, allowed the abuse to continue for up to 18 months before reporting to the management,” wrote Ms. Villaspir in her report.

The report states that after receiving the written complaint, the LTC home’s Director of Care, Rhonda Corcoran, initiated an internal investigation, and Mr. Lanktree was placed on administrative leave. Once the abuse was confirmed by Ms. Corcoran, his employment was terminated, and a charge was laid by YRP.

Ms. Villaspir also found that the home’s owner and licensee, ATK Care Inc., failed in its duty to protect residents from abuse and neglect.

While the home had a written policy that promoted zero tolerance of abuse and neglect, and required staff to report incidents immediately, she said this policy was not followed.

The inspection report also noted that River Glen Haven has been cited three times in the last 36 months for non-compliance with subsections of the Long-Term Care Homes Act (LTCHA) dealing with a LTC home’s duty to protect residents from abuse and neglect.

The Post asked Karen Ryan, the home’s Administrator for comment, but, in an email reply, she directed us to seek a response from Southlake Regional Health Centre, which is currently managing the home under a MLTC order issued on May 25.

“We were shocked and saddened by the details in the Long-Term Care inspector’s report. We have offered whatever support we can to those impacted,” said Gayle Seddon, Southlake’s Executive Lead for River Glen Haven, in an email statement to The Post.

“Southlake’s management team will support River Glen Haven to implement the orders in the inspector’s report. This includes reinforcing with all staff their duty to report any and all abuse, as well as strengthening whistle-blower protection, so everyone who works at the home is comfortable raising any concerns,” she added.

Mr. Lanktree is scheduled to appear in court in Newmarket on August 13.

To view the MTLC Inspection Report, click here.

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