Daughter of CHSLD Herron resident decries decision to close controversial facility

Patrizia Di Biase says in recent months, her 97-year-old mother Antonietta Pollice has been receiving great care at CHSLD Herron. But the facility, where at least 38 people died during a COVID-19 outbreak in the spring, is now closing down, and Di Biase is furious.

Patrizia Di Biase says she's worried about where her mother, 97-year-old Antonietta Pollice, is going to live

Antonietta Pollice, 97, lives on the second floor of CHSLD Herron. She's one of 53 people who will need a new place to live now that the facility is closing. (Submitted by Patrizia Di Biase-Leone)

At some point in the next 12 months, Antonietta Pollice, 97, will be moving to a new long-term care home — and the thought worries her daughter, Patrizia Di Biase.

Pollice is one of 53 residents still living at CHSLD Herron, the private seniors' home in Dorval where at least 38 residents died in less a month earlier this year following a COVID-19 outbreak.

Di Biase found out Monday morning that the home is closing, and that her mother, one of dozens of people who contracted the illness at the home in the spring, will have to move.

"Am I going to find a place that has people that [who will] care for her the way they care for her here? They call her grandma," Di Biase said on CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

At the height of the outbreak, the stories coming out of Herron were particularly harrowing — three employees caring for 133 residents, residents going unfed and unbathed, the "nauseating odour of urine and feces" in the air. 

But since the local health authority, the CIUSSS Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, has taken over management of the home, things have been better, Di Biase said. She described the care her mother has received recently as "amazing."

Pollice has dementia, and Di Biase said it won't be easy for her mother to leave the place where she has been living for four years, and which she considers home.

"It would have been nice if they would have just kept it open and let the CIUSSS take over," she said.

Government chose to close Herron

The owners of CHSLD Herron, the Katasa Group, decided to close the facility. They gave up its permit to the Health and Social Services Ministry.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said that the government chose to close Herron and not buy it from the owners.

"We could not make a cheque to the owner. That was not a possibility, for obvious reasons, one of them being [that Herron is] under investigation by the coroner."

Patrizia Di Biase, pictured here with her husband Franco Leone, has reluctantly started looking for another residence for her mother. (Louis-Marie Philidor/CBC)

The Health Ministry also investigated the facility and in September, released its findings that residents were victims of "organizational negligence."

The Katasa Group, which owns six other seniors' residences in Quebec, will cease operations at the home as of Saturday. The ministry has asked the CIUSSS to continue to care for the residents as plans evolved to transfer them to different facilities.

CIUSSS president Lynne McVey said over the next six to 12 months, staff will consult with the residents and their families to find out whether they want to be placed in homes in the public or private system.

Di Biase said she is still furious that her mother has to move. She has already started looking for facilities that are close by, but she's hoping it won't come to that.

"This is crazy, having to move them."