British Columbia

Sudden closure of nursing home leaves 91-year-old with nowhere to sleep but hospital hallway

The sudden, unexpected closure of a nursing home in Prince George, B.C., has left a group of vulnerable seniors scrambling to find somewhere to sleep ⁠that night.

9 vulnerable seniors told to vacate their care home immediately due to lack of staff

Kay Gable spent the night in the hallway of the hospital after her nursing home closed suddenly. (Brock Gable)

The sudden, unexpected closure of a nursing home in Prince George, B.C., left a group of vulnerable seniors scrambling to find somewhere to sleep ⁠that night — and for some, like 91-year-old Kay Gable, the only place available was the hallway of the local hospital. 

Gable moved into privately run Enat Complex Care a month ago, shortly after her husband of more than seven decades died. She has a number of health issues, including mild dementia. 

On Friday evening, just after 7:30 p.m., her family received a call: the facility was no longer licensed and they needed to find their mother a new place to live, starting immediately. 

"I'm really, really angry," said Kirk Gable, one of her sons. 

"To me, this is nothing short of bureaucratic incompetence. There's no common sense, there's no compassion."

Gable, like at least seven of the nine nursing home residents, was transported by ambulance to the emergency room at University Hospital of Northern British Columbia.

She spent Friday night and Saturday morning on a stretcher in the hallway until a room opened up. 

Her family isn't able to care for Gable at home, which is why they had originally turned to the $5,200-a-month nursing home. They were told cheaper, public nursing homes had wait lists up to a year long. 

Kay Gable, centre in pink, surrounded by her family. Her son Kirk Gable, front left, is pushing for answers about why there was no notice before the closure. (Kirk Gable)

'No indication' of a problem

Her son wants to know why they weren't given advanced warning that there were staffing problems and the possibility of a closure. 

"There was no indication from Northern Health or anybody that there was a problem at this home," Kirk Gable said. 

In fact, he said, Northern Health had recommended and referred his mother to Enat just weeks earlier.

"It's going to have a really negative impact on her health," he said. 

"She's confused and last night she was having tremors. She's upset and kept asking, 'Why can't I go home?'"

He's filed a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman and Prince George MLAs Shirley Bond and Mike Morris.

Kay Gable's family worries about the impact and stress of the upheaval will have on the 91-year-old's health. (Brock Gable)

Staffing troubles and licensing

The owner and operator of Enat, Eyob Abebe, said he had to close because he couldn't meet the staffing requirements to maintain his licence.

"It was not our intention to close the facility," said Abebe, who started the home three years ago.

"It's difficult to get staffing with short notice ... and we can't afford to run it with the number of staff [required]."

They needed to fill a 24-hour registered nurse position, a 16-hour licensed practical nurse and two more care aides, he said.

Northern Health said there had been ongoing discussions between the licensing department and Enat, and that it was the care home's choice to give up the licence.

"It was a voluntary decision by the operator, so at this time we're doing everything we can do to accommodate the needs of those residents," said Eryn Collins, a spokesperson with the health care provider

She said she couldn't specify how long the staffing issues have been under review.

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