Dementia patient not bitten by mouse, care home says

While Covenant Health says there is no evidence to allegations that a dementia patient was bitten in the face by mice at a Lethbridge care home, provincial officials still plans to tour facilities around Alberta.

Alberta minister to tour long-term care homes after allegations arose

Alberta's health minister says he was shocked by allegations that mice were nibbling on a dementia patient's face in a Lethbridge long-term care home. 3:04

There is no evidence supporting reports that a dementia patient was bitten by mice on the face in a Lethbridge care home, according to the provider in charge of the facility.

The national lobby group Friends of Medicare alleged Monday that a mouse nibbled on a dementia patient Sept. 1 at St. Therese Villa, a long-term care home in Lethbridge. The facility is operated by Covenant Health, a Catholic organization that has service contracts with the provincial health-care provider.

"We can understand how the public would be alarmed at a story like the one that was circulated yesterday," said Covenant Health CEO Patrick Dumelie in a release. "We are also concerned for the distress these allegations have caused our families and residents and our staff who provide incredible care."

Inspection teams from Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health are in Lethbridge investigating the conditions at St. Therese Villa. Dumelie says while a mouse was spotted in the room, there is no evidence that it was near the patient.  

He says a medical examination of the patient shows no evidence of animal bites. He says the patient may instead have a viral condition.

Allegations prompt tour of care homes

Fred Horne asked Associate Minister of Seniors George VanderBurg to tour the homes this fall while holding informal meetings with staff at some of the facilities.

"What has concerned me is the fact that it has been reported that employees — staff in St. Therese — have tried to bring this issue and other issues to the attention of management and their concerns have not been heard," Horne told reporters on Tuesday.

Horne said the tour will be an informal information gathering process and will not result in a formal report.

Staff will be asked to identify any issues and offer solutions.

Union calls for minimum staffing levels

Glenn Scott, a vice-president with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees that represents staff at the facility, said the health minister needs to take a close look at whether there is adequate funding to care for seniors in homes.

"There's been a lot of cuts to long-term care fundraising in the last year.... These funding cuts were made by him and the premier," he said. 

"He should be outraged. He should be doing an investigation. He should be looking at why these things are happening. I think the whole mouse incident could be a symptom of a bigger problem, which is a big-time cuts in long-term care for seniors in this province."

Scott is calling for minimum staffing levels in the facilities to ensure adequate care for the residents.

With files from CBC's Lydia Neufeld