Daughter of Maples resident awaits answers and action amid personal care home reviews

WINNIPEG — Family members and opposition politicians are calling on the province to release the findings of an outside expert’s review into Maples Personal Care Home, which was hit hard by COVID-19.

It comes as the province conducts ongoing operating licence reviews at Maples and two other Manitoba care homes, prompted by staffing and infection control issues.

“I felt that they weren’t sufficiently staffed,” said Niki Kotelo, the daughter of a Maples resident who died after contracting COVID-19. “The staff that were there were trying their level best.”

Marge Kotelo, 71, died Nov. 3 — one of 55 resident deaths during a three-month COVID-19 outbreak at the Revera-run facility. 

In November, the province’s previous health minister, Cameron Friesen, ordered a review of a situation at Maples Personal Care Home.

Friesen called for the review after eight people died over a period of 48 hours and multiple ambulances had to be dispatched to the care home to help treat a dozen residents.

An outside expert was brought in to examine the care residents received, with a final report due this month. Now Kotelo and opposition politicians are calling on the Progressive Conservative government to make the findings public.

“So that not only Maples Personal Care Home but other long-term care homes can take note of what’s gone on and make decisions moving forward that keep people safe,” said Uzoma Asagwara, the NDP’s health critic.

Manitoba Health has also put under review the operating licences of Maples, Parkview Place – which is also operated by Revera – and Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation’s personal care home.

Reviews at Parkview and Maples were launched during the outbreaks on Dec. 11. The one at Nisichawayasihk started Nov. 27 but it had no cases of COVID-19. 

“In general, when a facility is considered ‘under review,’ it means the province has identified concerns at the facility related to their operations and ability to maintain provincial PCH standards,” a provincial spokesperson said in an email.

According to the province, each facility must provide a detailed plan showing how it’ll address the concerns or they may face “more serious encumbrances on their licence.” 

Each facility must also provide regular status updates.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said new resident admissions were suspended at Maples and Parkview Place during each care home’s outbreak. The WRHA said neither care home has admitted new residents since the outbreaks were declared over Jan. 12.

The WRHA said it’s requested plans from both facilities before allowing the resumption of resident admissions to make sure they’re done safely.

Each care home under review is working towards resolving the issues identified, according to the province.

A board member for the personal care home in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation said Monday evening the community’s chief would have more to say Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada, which provides funding to First Nations for personal care homes, said it’s aware of the issues identified by the province and is continuing to work with community leaders to support the First Nation and their facility staff.

“The hiring of nurses and support staff is a challenge as there is a province-wide shortage of nurses,” Indigenous Services Canada said in an email to CTV News.

Revera said in a statement the company’s working closely with Manitoba Health and the WRHA and is committed to addressing any issues or concerns as soon as possible.

“In many ways it’s too little too late,” Kotelo said. “It’s certainly too little too late for my family.

“I feel like the time to do a review would’ve been between the first and second wave when appropriate steps could’ve been taken.”

Still, Kotelo hopes the reviews lead to change after COVID-19 and during the pandemic to help keep people safe while they wait for vaccines.

“For all of the other families who still have residents, loved ones in care, you know we don’t want to see this happen again,” said Kotelo. “We definitely need more staffing, better infection control.”

Health Minister Heather Stefanson’s office said more details on the outside review of Maples Personal Care Home could be released in the coming days.

A provincial spokesperson said in the past 10 years very few personal care home licences have been reviewed. They said it only happens once or twice each year and some years no reviews have been ordered. No licences have been revoked over that 10-year period. 

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