Public health urgently inspecting 7 homes linked to Rosslyn owners after home evacuated

Officials are urgently inspecting seven retirement and residential care homes linked to the same owners as the Rosslyn Retirement Residence after it was evacuated because of COVID-19 outbreak.

Two more Rosslyn residents died Tuesday, bringing the total to 4

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

Officials are urgently inspecting seven retirement and residential care homes linked to the same owners as the Rosslyn Retirement Residence after it was evacuated because of a massive COVID-19 outbreak.

They include four retirement homes — Dundas Retirement Place, Northview Seniors Residence, Cathmar Manor and Montgomery Retirement Home — as well as three residential care facilities, Emerald Lodge and Victoria Manor I and II.

Six of the seven facilities, along with the Rosslyn, have previously been ordered by public health to improve infection controls or face consequences.

Staff will finish inspecting the retirement homes Wednesday and plan to wrap up their investigations at the residential care facilities by Friday, according spokesperson Kelly Anderson.

"Given the issues at the Rosslyn specifically, public health decided to look at the other seven more closely," she explained.

Corporate records show the homes are all associated with the Martino family, which owned the Royal Crest Lifecare chain of nursing homes that controversially filed for bankruptcy in 2003, as first reported by the Hamilton Spectator.

Public health confirmed the ownership and operation of the eight homes are linked in variety of ways to members of the same family.

The Rosslyn was emptied over the weekend and residents transported to hospital after dozens tested positive for the virus.

Sixty-four residents at the 64-bed facility had contracted COVID-19 as of Wednesday, along with 20 employees.

Public health says two residents — an 86-year-old man and an 80-year-old man — died Tuesday, bringing the number of resident deaths to four.

The home has not responded to repeated requests calls and emails asking questions about the situation at the home.

Calls to personal numbers for the Martino family at a home in Ancaster also went unanswered Tuesday.

A woman who picked up the phone at North American Living Centres Ltd. at 307 King Street East, which is linked to the family and listed as the business address for several of the homes, said she had "no information" to provide then hung up.

A paramedic pushes a stretcher into the Rosslyn during a mass transfer of residents on May 15. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The earlier orders on six of the seven homes that are being inspected again resulted from a round of inspections of dozens of homes across the city by public health in mid-April.

The Montgomery Retirement Home is the only facility that wasn't written up at that time.

Issues identified at the other homes, including the Rosslyn, ranged from lacking a contingency plan for enough staff to safely operate to not having an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, the orders from public health show.

'Truly a nightmare'

The Rosslyn was brought up during Question Period at Queen's Park Wednesday when Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas MPP Sandy Shaw described the outbreak as "horrific" and referred to the fact a resident had been left behind and without care for nearly a day when the facility was cleared.

"This is truly a nightmare," she stated.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott responded, saying the home was evacuated because of concerns about its "physical structure and to keep people safe and healthy."

She noted the government is aware one resident was forgotten during the transfer, saying it's something that never should have happened."

"That is not acceptable under any terms ... and we are working with our partners to review the protocols and understand why this could have happened, and to make sure that this never happens again."