British Columbia

Island Health takes control of seniors care home after more than 40 complaints

Island Health has appointed a temporary administrator to oversee operations at the Comox Valley Seniors Village after numerous accusations that included resident abuse and neglect.

Health authority intervened after accusations of abuse, neglect at Courtenay facility

Island Health does not think residents at a Comox Valley Senior Village are at risk at this time, after the health authority intervened following months of complaints (Shutterstock)

Island Health is now in charge of a seniors care facility in Courtenay, B.C., after numerous complaints from residents' family members that included emotional and physical abuse. 

The health authority has appointed an administrator to oversee day-to-day operations at the Comox Valley Senior Village after the facility was found non-compliant with the province's Community Care and Assisted Living Act

Between Mar. 1 and Aug. 23, inspectors visited the site 45 times, responding to abuse allegations, as well as complaints about disease outbreaks and neglect.

Mark Blandford, Island Health's executive director of primary care and seniors health, said the volume and nature of the complaints prompted the decision to place Susan Abermann, formerly Island Health's lead for residential care services, in charge for the next six months.

"We don't think anyone in the facility is at risk at this time," said Blanford in an interview with CBC's On The Island, but noted there are concerns at a couple of other sites managed by the same company that are now under investigation.

Comox Valley Senior Village, seen here in a photograph from 2014, is a 136-bed long-term care facility. (Facebook/Comox Valley Seniors Village & Casa Loma)

The facility is owned by Retirement Concepts but was acquired by Cedar Tree in 2017, part of the Angbang Insurance Group, whose founder was convicted of fraud in China in May 2018.

Cedar Tree contracted The Pacific Reach Seniors Housing Management leadership team to manage day-to-day operations.

Blanford said Abermann's first priority is to stabilize staffing at the Courtenay facility, which has had high employee turnover and no director of care since September 2018.

"It's not acceptable and we certainly need to do more in the future to ensure that we have oversight," said Blanford, adding Island Health has learned from this situation to closely scrutinize sites when leadership is fluctuating.

Abermann's appointment was based upon a recommendation from North Island Medical Health Officer Charmaine Enns.

Enns also has the power to revoke the operating licence for the 136-bed long-term care facility if the situation at the facility does not improve under Abermann's watch.

To hear the complete interview with Mark Blandford, see the audio link below:

Island Health is taking over operations of the Comox Valley Seniors Village long-term care facility in Courtenay, over concerns for the operator's ability to ensure the health and safety of people in its care. To find out more, Gregor Craigie spoke with Mark Blandford, the executive director of Primary Care and Seniors Health at Island Health. 8:40

With files from On The Island

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