York Region medical officer of health steps in after COVID-19 outbreak at Villa Leonardo Gambin
Posted: January 2, 2021
( January 1, 2021)
By: Rosie DiManno, Toronto Star
The associate director of care at Villa Leonardo Gambin gets out a curt “no comment’’ and hangs up the phone.
The chief administrator at Villa Leonardo Gambin didn’t answer her phone — although she was definitely there on New Year’s Day — or respond to phone and email messages.
Their 168-bed nursing home in Woodbridge, meanwhile, has 26 coronavirus-positive residents and 12 deaths. That’s as of Dec. 31, because there were no updates Friday on the provincial COVID-19 website. The facility is facing its third (at least) outbreak since the pandemic began raging through long-term-care facilities late last winter. This one has been active since Nov. 20.
Villa Leonardo Gambin, an independent not-for-profit long-term-care home, is operated by Sienna Senior Living, which, according to its website, owns 37 LTCs in Ontario (and 27 retirement residences). It’s a huge player in an extremely profitable business.
Dec. 31 was also the day that Dr. Karim Kurji, medical officer of health for York Region, issued an order — complete with warning of a $5,000 per day fine for non-compliance — directing Sienna to “adhere to the directions of public health’’ after an inspection of the premises revealed that the institution:
- “Has inadequate senior leadership (supervisory staff) presence on the institution’s units, at all times, to ensure appropriate adherence to IPAC’’ (infection prevention and control) measures and
- “Has inadequate and/or insufficient IPAC knowledge and processes to protect resident needs, and requires assistance from York Region Public Health, Mackenzie Health Hospital, Public Health Ontario and the Local Health Integration Network to provide IPAC expertise to the institution to help contain and stop the COVID-19 at the institution.’’
So, 10 months into the pandemic and Villa Leonardo Gambin staff and administrators still remain so clueless about protocols for containing the virus — ensuring proper equipment, supplies and services, vigilant procedures, sufficient staffing and supervision, risk assessment, monitoring of essential care visitors, appropriate use of PPE, and immediately correcting errors — that Kurji (thankfully) has had to step in.
Unclear, from the way the order was written, is whether it’s a direct management order, compelling management takeover by Mackenzie Health Hospital, or what is known as a “voluntary management contract’’ that, upon consultation, establishes a management arrangement with a hospital.
“To confirm, Villa Leonardo Gambin received an order from the Medical Officer of Health for The Regional Municipality of York,’’ Sienna spokesperson Nadia Daniell-Colarossi tells the Star by email.
“There is no transfer of management to Mackenzie Health.’’
Adding: “We are working around the clock with our partners to care for residents and support team members at Villa Leonardo Gambin. Our resolve to fight COVID-19 is firm; however, it is incredibly challenging when the virus circulates a high levels in the community.’’
Daniell-Colarossi says Sienna has implemented a “robust’’ action plan that’s been approved by York Region Public Health and other authorities, and “have taken concrete steps to ensure additional advisory staff are on-site,’’ with further measures to “strength education and training around infection prevention and control.’’
Which is another way of saying that a robust action plan and concrete steps had been lacking before Kurji got on the case.
The provincial government does not post its orders online. But the Ontario Health Coalition, with its 400-member organizations, has done a good job of keeping track by cross-referencing data. In “A Call to Conscience,’’ a 68-page report issued Dec. 17 that documents in heartbreaking detail the inequities and shortfalls in institutional care for the elderly — outbreaks following the first wave of massive LTC contagion skyrocketed “with hair-raising speed’’ from 18 facilities, active, on Sept. 1 (only two had more than five cases) to 117 facilities, active, on Dec. 1 (and had reached 187 by Thursday) — lists eight institutions which have received management orders and 16 with “facilitated management agreements.’’
All but one are for-profit homes.
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