An investigation into one of the province’s hardest-hit long-term care homes, CHSLD Herron on the West Island, has concluded it suffered from “organizational negligence.”
The report, released Wednesday, said that if management at the private seniors’ home had understood its responsibilities and used the resources at its disposal, “it is reasonable to conclude that the Grim Reaper would not have been as devastating.”
In all, between March 26 and April 16, 38 deaths were confirmed by the coroner’s office. During a particularly dark period, 23 of those residents died between April 5 and 10.
When the local health authority, the CIUSSS Ouest-de-l’Ile-de-Montreal, arrived at Herron on March 29, there were three employees caring for 133 residents. It was filled with a “nauseating odour of urine and feces” and unwashed dishes.
The health authority took over management of the facility on April 7.
The findings were released alongside another report into CHSLD Sainte-Dorothee, a Laval residence also ravaged by COVID-19.
The toll in that case was staggering. In all, 100 residents died from COVID-19 and a total of 211 residents contracted the virus, along with 173 workers.
The report into Sainte-Dorothee, however, was more forgiving, concluding that staffing shortages, poor communication, as well as a lack of training and senior management contributed to the fatal outbreak
The problems plaguing the residence, according to the report, were emblematic of those facing the entire network of CHSLDs.
In a statement accompanying the release of the two reports, Marguerite Blais, the province’s minister responsible for seniors, said it is “clear to us that the pandemic alone does not justify what happened.”
“We learned from the first wave to make sure we never relive human dramas like the ones we experienced last spring.”
She said the reports will be used to improve care for seniors and “our vulnerable populations in CHSLDs Herron, Sainte-Dorothee and in all areas of life in Quebec.”
A separate, wide-ranging public inquiry was ordered by Quebec’s chief coroner into the province’s long-term care homes, private seniors’ residences and other residential institutions for vulnerable people over the first six weeks of the pandemic.