'Chaos' during care home evacuation, says senior's son

The son of a 96-year-old woman who lives at Cambridge Estates personal care home in St. John's said an evacuation during Saturday's power outage was difficult for residents.

Cambridge Estates residents sent to hotel, relatives' homes during blackout

Residents of Cambridge Estates personal care home were evacuated during a power outage on Saturday night. (CBC)

The son of a 96-year-old woman who lives at Cambridge Estates personal care home in St. John's said an evacuation during Saturday's power outage was difficult for residents. 

"It's been rough — it's been chaos," said Art Wight, whose mother has dementia and was one of about a hundred residents at the private assisted-living personal care home. 

Art Wight and his 96-year-old mother were the only people staying at Cambridge Estates after it was evacuated on Saturday night. (CBC)

"These people are unable to move, they're sick, they shouldn't be taken out of their beds in the middle of the night and transported somewhere else."  

Wight said the decision to send residents to family members' homes or the nearby Holiday Inn hotel seemed to have been made quickly. 

"To me the decision to move these people was probably made about four o'clock in the afternoon," said Wight.  

"Taxis were used, vans were used to get them to another location. So they're being transported by people who have no experience treating these types of people." 

Wight, mother spend lonely night

Wight said his mother was the only resident who did not leave the Cambridge Estates facility on Saturday night. "She just absolutely refused and I backed her up," he said. 

Wight stayed with his mother in her room at the home. He said it was an uncomfortable night. 

"It wasn't the heat factor, it was the lighting factor. You couldn't go out into the halls because it was pitch black," said Wight. 

Wight said he was told by other residents' family members that accommodations were tight at the Holiday Inn.

He said he was told that residents were housed two to a bed at the hotel, and that some residents did not get their medications on time. 

Generator recommended by families

Wight said after a power outage last year, families of residents had meetings with the facility's out of province owners.

Wight said the families recommended a backup generator be installed at the facility, but he said the owners told them they felt the cost was too high. 

Simon Nyilassy, president and CEO of Regal Lifestyle Communities, the company which runs Cambridge Estates, said he wasn't sure whether a generator for the facility would have helpful during Saturday night's situation. 

"I don't know the answer to that now," said Nyilassy. 

He also said he was not sure whether installing generators was considered after past power outages. 

Nyilassy said an official with the company was slated to arrive in St. John's on Sunday night to meet with families of the residents and discuss what happened. 


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