Dispute over Rosslyn Retirement Residence licence revocation headed to hearing

The Rosslyn is the site of Hamilton's deadliest COVID-19 outbreak. All but two of the 66 people living there and 22 staff members tested positive for the virus.

Rosslyn Retirement Residence is the site of Hamiltons' deadliest COVID-19 outbreak

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)

The fight over the Rosslyn Retirement Residence's licence is headed for a hearing — though it's unclear when it will begin.

A case conference in the dispute took place Thursday, according to Tribunals Ontario spokesperson Rebecca Ganesathas.

What was discussed during that meeting is confidential, she explained. But the issues were apparently not settled as Ganesathas confirmed the matter will proceed to a hearing. A date has not yet been scheduled.

That means both parties, the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) and the Rosslyn will argue their cases through evidence.

The Rosslyn is the site of Hamilton's deadliest COVID-19 outbreak.

It was evacuated on May 15 with the majority of residents being transferred to hospital. All but two of the 66 people living there and 22 staff members tested positive for the virus.

Sixteen residents died, accounting for more than a third of the city's COVID-19 deaths.

St. Joesph's Healthcare Hamilton confirmed on Friday it was still caring for a resident from the Rosslyn — nearly three months after it was emptied.

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

Its licence was revoked by the RHRA on June 15 with an order that described a situation where cost-cutting was the priority, nursing staff were intimidated by an administrator and a medication room was so crammed with trash it took days to clear.

The home appealed that decision, calling it "unfair" and citing what it called "serious errors in law and fact."

Its 10-page appeal argued the Rosslyn took "reasonable steps" to comply with the direction from province during the early stages of the pandemic and takes issue with a list of perceived errors, including when the first case of COVID-19 appeared at the home.

A paramedic pushes a stretcher into the Rosslyn Retirement Residence in Hamilton, Ont. on May 15. Health-care staff spent the next eight hours transferring residents from the home to hospital. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The regulator, for its part, said it has a "history of concerns" with the home and of non-compliance in areas including infection prevention and control, how medication is administered and "providing false or misleading information to the RHRA."

Despite the conflicting accounts, one issue is not being disputed — something terrible happened at the home.

"Rosslyn acknowledges the tragedy that occurred on its premises," reads a statement from lawyer Robert S. Brown, who said in an email that he represents the retirement residence.

No attempts to reverse revocations have succeeded 

The home's statement, shared with CBC on June 30, is its only public response to questions about the situation there to date.

It says the Rosslyn "welcomes" the opportunity to publicly explain the steps taken to protect residents, adding the home is "confident then when all information is publicly known, it can satisfy the Registrar, the public, and its community that it responded appropriately."

It ends by saying the home wants to regain the public's trust so it can "re-admit its residents in the near future."

The RHRA says it has revoked 14 licences since it was established in 2011. Of those, six were appealed, but none of the applicants have been successful in their bid to get their revocation order reversed.


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