Niagara MPP calls for province to take over 'disgusting' Greycliff Manor after 35-year-old dies

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates is calling for an emergency takeover by the province of Greycliff Manor retirement home after seeing "disgusting" images of a room where a 35-year-old Hamilton man died.

'The bedding hadn't been changed for weeks. There was feces on the bed,' MPP says

Chris "Birdie" Gladders, 35, died after battling Fabry's disease. His brother, Shawn, says Chris' room at Greycliff Manor was in disgusting shape. (Chris Gladders/Facebook)

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates is calling for an emergency takeover by the province of Greycliff Manor retirement home after seeing "disgusting" images of a room where a 35-year-old Hamilton man died.

Gates says he received the images of the room from Shawn Gladders. His brother, Chris, was suffering from a rare disease and died on Saturday with medical assistance. He wasn't diagnosed with COVID-19.

"It's heartbreaking," Gates said in an interview on Thursday.

"The bedding hadn't been changed for weeks. There was feces on the bed. There was urine on the bed. There was urine and feces on the floor, the room was absolutely disgusting ... it's time for someone to take over."

Shawn, 38, says it was hard to see his younger brother in die in that room.

"I was up in that room for five minutes and I was depressed. I can only imagine, day in and day out, being stuck there," he said.

An image that Shawn Gladders and Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates say is from Greycliff Manor appear to show urine and feces on the floor of the room where Chris Gladders was staying. (Submitted by Wayne Gates)

Chris, also known as Birdie, grew up on the east Mountain. He was battling Fabry's disease, a genetic condition which affects the body's ability to break down a specific fatty acid and causes a number of side-effects.

Shawn said it led Chris to have multiple strokes. He was staying at St. Joe's but ended up at Greycliff during the pandemic.

The day before Chris died, Shawn says they spoke on the phone. During that call, Shawn says his brother dropped some tea and a donut.

"He pulled the call bell beside his bed. I was on the phone with him for 40 minutes and nobody answered that bell. That was his last night," Shawn said.

Shawn saw Chris on Saturday when he died. He had two daughters Hailee, 13, and Savannah, 5. Gates said hearing about how they said goodbye to their father in such horrifying conditions was "heart-wrenching."

Shawn says the home's director told him Chris never should have been sent to the facility because it doesn't have the resources, training or staffing to help him.

The home has not yet responded to requests for comment.

Inspection reports show years of non-compliance

Ontario's retirement homes regulator said it is aware of the photos from Greycliff Manor.

Phil Norris, spokesperson for the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA), said it takes "any allegations related to the care and wellbeing of residents very seriously."

"The RHRA is collecting and assessing information through the mandatory reporting process in order to determine appropriate next steps," Norris wrote.

"When it comes to harm or risk of harm to residents, the RHRA will not hesitate to take immediate action to protect their safety and wellbeing. If there is an issue that falls outside of our mandate, we will work with our community partners so that residents get the help that they need."

Chris Gladders is survived by two daughters, but his family says he died in a room at Greycliff Manor with his own urine and feces on the floor. (Chris Gladders/Facebook)

RHRA inspection reports show Greycliff has had non-compliance issues for years.

The most recent report posted online from Dec. 9 showed it wasn't properly following COVID-19 infection prevention and control practices.

RHRA previously issued an order to revoke Greycliff Manor's licence along with those of Cathmar Manor, Dundas Retirement Place, Montgomery Retirement Home, Northview Seniors' Residence and Sheridan Lodge. All six homes are connected to the Martinos. The license revocation takes place as of June 1, 2021. 

While under the order, the RHRA says the licensees of the home must report financial information and other details in order to ensure the safety and well-being of residents.

The Martino family also owned the Royal Crest Lifecare chain of nursing homes that went bankrupt in 2003

The lawyer representing the Martinos did not respond to requests for comment.

The Ministry of Seniors and Accessibilities said in a statement it, along with the RHRA and public health, are "working hand in hand to ensure we are giving the home the tools required."

It also pointed to an RHRA management order on Nov. 3 that ordered the owners to retain a manager from its registrar to oversee operations.

NDP highlights poor conditions at Grace Villa

This comes days after NDP MPP Monique Taylor and SEIU Healthcare President Sharleen Stewart asked the province to prevent APANS Health Services from regaining management of Grace Villa.

Dozens of letters from staff who accused management of being negligent during the pandemic prompted the call from Taylor and Stewart.

"There have been dozens of preventable deaths at Grace Villa, and staff are deeply concerned that the home will return to the state of disarray it was in before Hamilton Health Sciences took over," Taylor said in a release.

Grace Villa was the site of Hamilton's largest and deadliest outbreak with 234 people infected, including 144 residents, 88 staff, and two visitors. Forty-three people died. 

A nursing home.
Grace Villa was the site of Hamilton's largest and deadliest COVID-19 outbreak. (Supplied by Hamilton Health Sciences)

Anonymous letters, which the MPP and SEIU say are from staff, revealed horrifying details.

One letter alleged residents lay in "soiled and or soaked briefs, wearing little or no clothing or bedding on bare mattresses that were saturated with urine."

Another read, "residents would be falling on floor or choking, and we would have to wait 30 minutes to enter the room while we waited for gowns to be delivered."

One more said, "the images of residents, some hanging out of beds moaning, vomiting, crying. It is all too much to bear. I still can't sleep at night."

APANS Health Services CEO Mary Raithby responded to the allegations, calling them "deeply concerning."

"The safety of our residents, staff and family members is paramount ... we are continually reviewing our response throughout the outbreak.  We will continue to listen to the best advice in our sector to determine where we can make enhancements to further protect our residents and staff," she wrote in a statement. 

She added she was "saddened" some have felt there hasn't been enough done to help staff who are "continuing to pour their hearts and energy into their work each day."

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has been temporarily overseeing the home following a "voluntary management agreement" approved by the Ministry of Long-Term Care on Dec. 16.


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.

With files from Dan Taekema