Retirement home regulator says Rosslyn employee worked with COVID-19 symptoms

An employee at the Rosslyn Retirement Residence was allowed to work despite having COVID-19 symptoms, causing them to come into contact with "numerous residents," according to a newly released report from the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority.

Home is appealing order to revoke its licence

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

An employee at the Rosslyn Retirement Residence was allowed to work despite having COVID-19 symptoms, causing them to come into contact with "numerous residents," according to a newly released report from the province's retirement homes regulator.

Staff at the home lacked training around infection prevention and control and weren't provided with adequate personal protective equipment, according to the report filed after an inspection by the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) on May 14.

It describes one staff member who was showcasing signs of the virus but was allowed to stay at work for the rest of their shift.

"This inaction by the licensee jeopardized the health of the residents," states the RHRA.

The report also says staff said they had to supply their own protective gear, such as cloth masks, because there weren't enough supplies at the Rosslyn.

"Staff further reported they received no training in the proper use of PPE or in increased cleaning procedures during the pandemic," it adds, pointing to that lack of training as a factor that led to staff failing to respond correctly when their coworker showed symptoms of COVID-19.

The Rosslyn is associated with the Martino family, which owned the Royal Crest Lifecare chain of nursing homes that went bankrupt in 2003.

A lawyer representing the home did not respond to a request for comment about the RHRA report. Representatives of the home have not replied to repeated questions about the outbreak at the home or resident deaths.

The 64-bed facility was evacuated on May 15. All but two of the 66 people living there and 22 staff members contracted the virus.

Sixteen residents have died of the virus, making the Rosslyn the site of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreak in Hamilton.

A paramedic dons protective gear before beginning to transfer residents at Rosslyn Retirement Residence to hospital on May 15 following an outbreak that infected 64 residents and 22 staff members. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Inspections by public health and the RHRA have both identified issues around infection prevention and control.

The city has since pulled the home's business licence and the regulator revoked the home's licence on June 15, a move the Rosslyn has now appealed to the Ontario's Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT).

Timeline for appeal unclear

In its appeal a lawyer for the home argues the regulator made "serious errors in law and fact," including the date when the first resident fell ill with the virus.

"Rosslyn acknowledges the tragedy that occurred on its premises," read a statement released last week.

The home is "confident that when all information is publicly known, it can satisfy the Registrar, the public, and its community that it responded appropriately," it added, saying the Rosslyn aims to "re-admit its residents in the near future."

The timeline for the appeal process is unclear.  

On Monday a spokesperson for Tribunals Ontario said the matter was being scheduled for a case conference where the two parties may be asked to settle "any or all of the issues" and work out other details such as the length of the hearing.

The spokesperson also said the LAT has not received an application from the Rosslyn to stay the RHRA's revocation order.

A spokesperson for the RHRA would not say whether or not the regulator would consider settling with the home, saying the fact the appeal process is underway means he could only provide background information.

However, the spokesperson did say the RHRA has revoked 14 licences since it was set up in 2011.

Of those, six were appealed, but none of the appeals were successful.