THUNDER BAY — A Thunder Bay woman is speaking out about conditions at the Southbridge Roseview long-term care home, after an incident which she says resulted in her grandmother receiving her roommate's medication.
"This was a catastrophic medical event," Celine Wood says.
According to Wood, the family received a phone call from the home the evening of December 5, explaining that her 93-year-old grandmother had accidentally been given antipsychotic medication and various diuretics that morning.
She was taken to the emergency department at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre where she spent one night before being returned to Roseview.
Wood said the family was allowed in to see her because she was termed "end of life."
"We thought we were going to lose her, because her breathing was so shallow. Her blood pressure dropped...she was like in a coma."
Her grandmother recovered, and regained the ability to sit up and swallow.
But Wood said the event has left its mark, including the loss of short-term memory.
"If you're feeding her, and you say 'Open for another bite,' she'll say 'Oh, am I eating?' "
Wood said the family has made several inquiries but is still waiting for Southbridge management to explain how her grandmother could have been given somebody else's medication.
She said she was told the medication cart used by staff in her grandmother's unit wasn't working right the day of the incident.
"The computer that tracks who's getting what was not functioning properly. Why was that happening? There's gotta be a backup plan."
Southbridge Care Homes told TBNewswatch it can't speak to any specifics regarding the health care of its residents, but is investigating the incident with its community health care partners.
Wood's grandmother, who is blind, has also survived COVID-19. Although she tested positive, she developed no respiratory problems, and her case is now considered resolved.
A dozen other residents of Southbridge Roseview have died after contracting the virus.
Concerns about how the pandemic has affected residents' care
Wood has concerns about about the impact the pandemic has had on how residents are looked after.
"A 93-year-old blind woman that takes almost an hour per meal will not fare well amongst an utterly overwhelmed staff in full pandemic mode. This is not how we should be caring for our loved ones."
She's speaking out, she said, because she believes the rest of the community needs to know what's going on in nursing homes.
"I'm typically a very private person when it comes to my family. This is very important. What we've done to these people is heartbreaking. We wouldn't do this to our own children."
Wood said she doesn't want to point fingers at any of the staff that have cared for her grandmother, adding "they are not able, I believe, due to employment restrictions to talk about what they're seeing inside. I personally am fearful that now that I've gone on the news, I'm going to be persona non grata in the home."
Earlier this week, the head of the union representing workers at Roseview described the nursing home as "a war zone."
Wood is advising other families to demand to be let inside their loved one's nursing home to see what the conditions are.
"If you are hearing that 'everything is fine,' I would want to see for myself," she said.
Wood questions whether cleaning protocols have been followed during the pandemic, saying the floor in her grandmother's room was dirty, her table was dirty, and "she was dirty. In my opinion she wasn't being cared for properly at all."
However, she said that when she was at Roseview on Tuesday, she was happy to see there were more staff members in the facility.
"And as the sick staff members resolve, they're coming back to work, which is fantastic. That's what we need to see."
What she has observed recently, Wood said, is one person working in her grandmother's unit.
"I don't know the numbers but taking care of, I'm gonna guess, 12 residents who often need help. They need assistance for eating. They need assistance taking water," she said, adding that her family is convinced they kept their loved one alive last week by providing their own hands-on care.
Southbridge said earlier this week it has brought on dozens of new staff for Roseview, and is actively search for more.
It said it has done well in recruiting personal support workers, but still needs more registered nurses.
Southbridge says residents are receiving proper care
In a statement to TBNewswatch, Southbridge spokesperson Candace Chartier refuted suggestions that residents are not receiving nutrition or fluids:
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit has also noted that management at the home took significant steps prior to the outbreak to mitigate the transmission of the virus within the facility.
As of Wednesday, the number of active COVID-19 cases among residents of Roseview had fallen to 14.
There were also 13 active cases involving staff members.