Inquiry into N.D.G. long-term care facility finished, but concerns remain

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Families still awaiting improvements after complaints about substandard care at the Vigi Reine-Elizabeth CHSLD.

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An investigation ordered by Health and Social Services Minister Christian Dubé into complaints by families about the treatment of their loved ones at the Vigi Reine-Elizabeth long-term care centre in N.D.G. is now complete, but families say they have yet to see the report or to notice any improvement in care.

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In fact, sometime on Thursday night, a 93-year-old resident of the facility who suffers from dementia fell from her bed and remained on the floor, bleeding from the head, for an unknown period of time before a staff member happened upon her during rounds, the woman’s daughter, Marie Pallett, told the Montreal Gazette.

Movement monitors are installed in the rooms of residents with cognitive impairment, which should trigger an alarm in the nurse’s office when a resident gets out of bed. But Pallett said her family was told by the owner of the facility that the monitor in her mother’s room was broken. Staff were not able to tell the family at what time she fell.

“We don’t know how long she was lying there,” Pallett said. “She is black and blue and has a big cut on her head and stitches. That’s her third fall since she was admitted there two years ago. They can’t help that she falls, I understand that, but there are supposed to be safety measures in place to alert the staff if she falls.”

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Last November, families of several residents at the privately-run, government-subsidized facility went public with their concerns about poor care, chronic understaffing, bedbugs, mould and equipment shortages at Vigi Reine-Elizabeth. Following coverage in the media, the health authority overseeing the establishment, the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, sent a three-person committee to interview residents, family members and staff.

Then in March, Health Minister Christian Dubé’s office launched an “administrative inquiry” into the facility, appointing a special envoy from the CIUSSS to conduct another inquiry and make recommendations.

A spokesperson for Dubé’s office referred questions from the Montreal Gazette about the status of these investigations to the office of Marguerite Blais, minister responsible for seniors.

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A spokesperson for Blais’s office, Jean-Charles Del Duchetto, said the special envoy has completed the administrative inquiry. “Now we are in the process of ensuring follow-up of the recommendations at the health ministry with the collaboration of the CIUSSS and CHSLD,” he said.

Del Duchetto said the report and recommendations will be made public “soon”, and will be posted on the health department’s website. He said he could not say exactly when.

But Mary Dunlop, whose 88-year-old mother has been a resident at Vigi Reine-Elizabeth for the past four years, said families were assured they would receive copies of reports from both inquiries, and they are losing patience.

“So far we’ve seen nothing, heard nothing and I have not noticed any meaningful change here,” said Dunlop, who has resorted to installing a video camera in her mother’s room to monitor her care when she or her brother can’t be there. She has also hired a private caregiver to advocate for her mother and help with her care.

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She is frustrated that the health department stopped allowing Vigi Reine-Elizabeth to admit new residents while it is being investigated, but has so far not communicated how and when conditions will be improved for current residents.

“We just have to live in blind faith and hope for best, and that nothing horrible is going to happen to our loved ones,” she said.

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