Hamilton

Horwath asks chief for police investigation into Rosslyn Retirement Residence

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath has written a letter to Hamilton's police chief calling for an investigation into the Rosslyn Retirement Residence.

Ontario NDP leader says home has a 'long history of horrendous incidents'

Public health officials cited "significant staffing challenges" as one reason residents at the Rosslyn were transferred to hospital. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath has written a letter to Hamilton's police chief calling for an investigation into the Rosslyn Retirement Residence.

In the letter sent Tuesday, Horwath says she's writing to bring Chief Eric Girt's "attention to further concerning, negligent and potentially criminal situations" at the home, which she says "warrants further investigation."

The NDP leader goes on to ask Girt to re-open investigations the service may have already begun into the operation of the home and any others associated with its owners.

She cites an investigation was opened into the "neglect of one senior who was left behind when the facility was ordered to be evacuated due to precarious short staffing."

A spokesperson for Hamilton police said the service has not started its own investigation into the home.

However, police have "contacted the oversight body for the facility that revoked the Rosslyn's licence to support their investigation," said Jackie Penman.

"If, during their investigation, these allegations reach the threshold of criminality then the appropriate criminal charges will be laid," she added.

The privately-owned home associated with the Martino family was evacuated on May 15, following an outbreak that infected 64 of 66 residents and 22 staff members.

Fourteen people who lived at the Rosslyn have died. It's the site of the deadliest outbreak in the city.

Representatives of the home did not immediately respond to a call and email requesting a response to Horwath's letter on Tuesday. The home has not responded to repeated requests for comment since the outbreak began.

On Monday the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) said it had issued an order to revoke the home's licence.

The Rosslyn can now appeal the order and also apply for a stay of revocation, according to the RHRA.

'I feel we were lied to'

Tina Smith, whose grandmother Edna Lightowler is one of the residents in hospital, described the fact the home is shut down as a good thing.

"[I'm] disappointed, saddened, like disgusted," she said. "I feel we were lied to, betrayed and they weren't advocating for my grandmother they were advocating for a cheque."

Edna Lightowler poses with a plush moose she received from her family as a Christmas present. The 87-year-old is in hospital after contracting COVID-19 at the Rosslyn Retirement Residence. (Supplied by Tina Smith)

Horwath has also called for seven other Hamilton homes linked to the Martinos to have their licences scrapped.

"At some point this is not just about bad business practices," she said during a media availability Tuesday.

"This particular family has a number of different holdings or homes they're involved with in Hamilton and elsewhere and I think the police should have a look at whether there is justification for criminal charges to be laid."

Howath said she's "quite concerned" about the possibility of issues similar to those seen at the Rosslyn, where inspections uncovered bed bugs, mouse droppings and mould

Her letter states the home has a "long history of horrendous incidents" and points to inspections by public health and the RHRA which both cited issues with infection prevention and controls and "failure to protect residents from neglect."

"With these new revelations of how terribly bad the neglect of our loved ones has been, I believe the Rosslyn Retirement Home warrants further investigation," wrote Horwath.

"I trust that you will review the matter and take any actions you deem appropriate."

Where will they go?

Smith's grandmother deals with dementia and it's unlikely she would have returned to the Rosslyn even if its licence hadn't been revoked.

Still, she's wondering what will become of those in hospital who will have no place to go once things open back up.

Twenty-nine residents are being cared for by St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, while 19 are staying at Hamilton Health Sciences, according to a joint-statement from the hospitals.

"Our most heartfelt sympathies are extended to those whose loved ones have passed away and the residents whose lives continue to be disrupted as a result of the home's licence being revoked," it reads. "We are continuing to care for those in hospital and to support patients when they are ready to be discharged to another community setting."

The RHRA says residents of the Rosslyn can access its emergency fund for financial support. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The RHRA says residents can access its emergency fund and that it's working with the city to ensure they're supported as they search for housing.

But Smith fears the impact of the outbreak at the Rosslyn isn't over yet.

"You have people with dementia that are already confused and now they're going to me moving to all these different areas of care and homes with different people," she explained.

"And then you have people that can't take care of themselves and where do they go? We're already in a position in Ontario where there's not enough homes."

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