Hamilton

Prospective Rosslyn buyer planning upgrades to keep residents safe, says lawyer

The prospective buyer of the Rosslyn Retirement Residence has no connection to its former owners and plans to update the home to ensure the safety of future clients following a deadly COVID-19 outbreak, according to a representative.

Changes would focus on 'resident care, comfort and safety,' says representative for Laura Philp

The Rosslyn Retirement Residence is at 1322 King Street East in Hamilton. The site was home to an outbreak that infected sixty-four residents and 22 staff members who tested positive for the virus. Sixteen residents died. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The woman who hopes to buy the Rosslyn Retirement Residence has no connection to its former owners and plans to update the home to ensure the safety of future clients following a deadly COVID-19 outbreak, according to her lawyer.

Michael Woollcombe, a lawyer who works with Laura Philp, the person who has applied to operate the Rosslyn, Cathmar Manor and Greycliff Manor, said she has no link with the Martinos.

The Rosslyn was emptied on May 15, 2020, amid a massive outbreak of the virus. Sixty-four residents and 22 staff members tested positive for the virus. Sixteen residents died.

"It is a tragedy and it was important to both Laura Philp and RHRA that is was clear that there was no connection or involvement whatsoever with the former owners going forward," said Woollcombe.

The Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) revoked the Rosslyn's licence, along with six other homes connected to the Martino families, which owned the Royal Crest Lifecare chain of nursing homes that went bankrupt in 2003.

Now the RHRA says it intends to issued a new licence for the Rosslyn and the two other homes, if Philp abides by a list of conditions.

Principal among them is that their former owners are not given any decision-making authority when it comes to the finances or operation of the homes.

The RHRA has also dictated that the Rosslyn not reopen until the licensee has satisfied it that the home is "clean and sanitary, and well-maintained," that appropriate staff are in place and that policies have been set up to protect residents from COVID-19.

A lawyer representing the Martinos did not immediately respond to questions about the sites and conditions.

Woollcombe said Philp, who operates a handful of care homes in Ontario, plans to run the three facilities retirement residences and welcomes the conditions, describing them as "fair and thoughtful."

It's his understanding the sale of the three sites is expected to close in roughly 60 days, he said Thursday.

A memorial on a pole across the street from the Rosslyn Retirement Residence is made up of 16 crosses, one for each of the residents of the home who died of COVID-19. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Even before the Rosslyn was emptied, inspections by public health and the RHRA pointed to basic issues around infection prevention and control and a "failure to protect residents from neglect."

Reports from the RHRA also raised issues with drug storage, pests and plans of care for people living there.

City inspections of the home between 2018 and 2020 point to evidence of bed bugs, minor cleaning issues and mice, previous reports show.

Woollcombe said Philp intends to update the three properties to "ensure resident care, comfort and safety" once the sale is complete.

"Laura is confident that the weaknesses that have been shown to exist in care homes will be remediated and that best practices will be implemented at these homes going forward to ensure the safety of the residents in the facility."

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