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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.