Provincial regulator says Rosslyn failed to protect residents from neglect, follow infection prevention

A provincial inspection of a Hamilton retirement home that was emptied following a severe outbreak of COVID-19 found it didn't follow infection prevention and control measures and failed to protect residents from neglect.

Home did not appear to be 'effectively monitoring' residents with COVID-19: Dr. Richardson

The Rosslyn Retirement Residence at 1322 King Street East was emptied of residents Friday following an outbreak of COVID-19. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

A provincial inspection of a Hamilton retirement home that was emptied following a severe outbreak of COVID-19 found it didn't follow infection prevention and control measures and failed to protect residents from neglect.

The Rosslyn Retirement Residence will not be able to bring any residents back until it addresses those issues and hires a regulated health professional (RHP) to protect those living there from the virus.

Sixty-three people who were living at the home tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, along with 20 staff members. Two residents have died.

The Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA), which oversees retirement homes in Ontario, issued two orders to the home on May 15.

That's the same day paramedics, hospital staff and the home began a mass-transfer or residents. Over the next eight hours the last 52 people who were at the Rosslyn were taken out and brought to hospital.

"RHRA inspected the home last week and found that the home did not follow certain sections of the Retirement Homes Act pertaining to infection prevention and control and failure to protect residents from neglect," stated senior advisor Farrah Bourre in an email to CBC.

The Rosslyn has not responded to repeated calls and emails from CBC News asking questions about the situation there.

The outbreak at the home was first declared on May 10 when a resident tested positive, according to Winnie Doyle, vice president of clinical operations at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton. By the 15th 49 residents had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

"It was a very dynamic, high-risk environment by Friday," she explained.

Officials have stated the home was struggling with staffing as employees contracted the virus and the level of care residents required continued to rise.

On Friday the home, along with health officials, decided to clear out its residents.

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

But, without a master list of residents and no regular staff members working, one man was missed during the transfer and left alone in his room for nearly a day before family members alerted officials.

Doyle described the fact a resident was left without care for hours as a "mistake" that left St. Joe's staff who helped empty the home "extremely distraught."

She added part of the confusion that led to the man being missed was because the home told St. Joe's he had already been transferred to hospital earlier in the week.

Unclear when residents could return

Hamilton's public health unit has issued orders of its own to the Rosslyn.

The first followed an inspection on April 15 and cited two specific issues: a lack of a sufficiently detailed outbreak response plan and a lack of a written process for in-home isolation of ill residents and/or physical distancing.

Public health said the home made changes to bring it into compliance. However, as residents started to test positive they carried out a second inspection on May 12, this time identifying six issues, including several that were supposed to be addressed in the original order.

"They did not appear to be effectively monitoring the residents in terms of the illness," said Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton's medical officer of health, during a media update Tuesday. 

"At this point we do not know when the residents may be able to go back to this facility."

Staff wearing protective equipment including face shields, masks and gowns could be seen working inside the home last week. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The compliance order from the RHRA states: "Residents that were not residing at the Home as of May 16, 2020 are not permitted to return to the Home, until the Retained RHP has approved their return."

The Rosslyn has also been ordered to ensure it has adequate staff to provide the necessary care for residents.

Bourre noted the RHRA is in "daily communication" with the home's owners along with Hamilton public health to ensure the Rosslyn abides by its orders before any residents are allowed to return.

"We continue to monitor the situation and are working with community partners to achieve this," she wrote, adding the pandemic is an "unprecedented time for everyone, but especially for seniors and their loved ones."

In a situation where a home doesn't follow orders, the RHRA has the ability to use enforcement actions including fines, compliance or management orders and revoking a licence "as a last resort," Bourre added.