(Record file photo)

Administrator to oversee B.C. seniors’ home in wake of allegations of abuse, neglect

Island Health reports dozens of violations and delays at Comox Valley Seniors Village

A temporary administrator has been appointed to oversee a seniors’ home on Vancouver Island after a number of violations were found to have been committed, including disease outbreak and neglect.

The Island Health Authority said Monday that “numerous” routine and complaint-based inspections were conducted at the 136-bed Comox Valley Seniors Village in Courtenay, and “wide-ranging and stringent” restrictions were placed on its license in June.

But three months later, officials still found an “unacceptable” number of violations of the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, and too long of a delay to address them.

“Due to the operator’s inability to meet the care expectations outlined in legislation, the board of directors has taken the extraordinary action to appoint an administrator to manage the facility,” said board of directors chair Leah Hollins in a news release.

Susan Abermann, a past leader of Island Health’s residential care services and executive director of another facility with the same owner as Comox Valley Seniors Village, will serve as administrator for six months.

The care home is owned by Retirement Concepts, which was sold to a Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group, in 2017. The Chinese government took control of Anbang’s assets in February 2018.

READ MORE: Founder of Chinese company behind 21 B.C. seniors’ homes gets 18 years for fraud

The authority’s medical health officer, Dr. Charmaine Enns, filed a report outlining 45 inspections and investigations conducted from March 1 to Aug. 23 of this year – an amount she called “exceptional.”

All but five of the 35 of the completed examinations identified violations, while 10 others remain in progress, related to disease outbreak, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, insufficient staffing, improper record-keeping, and aggression between residents.

RELATED: Province taking over seniors’ home care in southern B.C.

“This represents a widespread, systemic failure on the part of the licensee that will not be remedied by isolated responses to single contraventions,” Enns wrote.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that currently there is a risk to the health and safety of persons in care at the facility.”

Don Broten, 85, has mixed dementia and has lived at the home for more than three years. In July, he nearly died after an outbreak of parainfluenza wasn’t recognized until the last minute.

“The system does work. It works long and slow and painfully, but it does in the end work,” said his wife, Delores, who started a letter-writing campaign to draw attention to problems.

“If they manage to keep the improvements that we’re looking for, there’s no reason for him not to live a lot longer.”

Anyone with concerns about conditions at a care facility should keep records and report them, she said.

“[The problems were] much bigger and more broken than we realized.”

KEEP READING: B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

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