Island seniors home, subject of complaints, sees administrator’s appointment extended

Island Health has extended the appointment of an administrator overseeing the operations of a Retirement Concepts seniors home on Vancouver Island for at least another four months.

In September, Island Health took the rare step of appointing an administrator, Susan Abermann, at the 136-bed Comox Valley Seniors Village following multiple complaints from family members and investigations into allegations of neglect, disease outbreaks, and staffing shortages. Island Health funds 120 of the beds.

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Abermann was appointed to oversee day-to-day operations at the long-term care facility for at least six months until March 31. That’s been extended until at least July 31 on the recommendation of North Island medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns who said progress had been made but that it was clear ongoing support was needed.

“I completely agree with this recommendation that we need four more months for this appointment to continue before we can consider handing the facility back,” B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday.

The medical health officer’s recommendation was guided by reports from Abermann and Island Health’s Community Care Facilities licensing program.

In February, B.C. health officials took temporary control of a fourth Retirement Concepts seniors home — Summerland Seniors Village in Interior Health — for failing to provide proper care to residents.

The move followed similar administrative takeovers by Island Health of Retirement Concepts homes in Victoria, Nanaimo and Comox Valley last fall due to staffing shortages and concerns about neglect of residents.

“I can’t tell you how unusual this is and how disappointing it is and how it needs to change and they understand that and part of this process is making sure that happens,” said Dix.

“When we hand [Comox Valley Seniors Village] back we want to make sure we don’t have to do this again — ever,” said Dix.

The problems in these care homes predated the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dix, “it wasn’t acceptable then and it’s less acceptable now.”

There are 19 long-term care or assisted living homes in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health authorities with clusters or single residents with COVID-19. Lynn Valley Care Centre and Haro Park Care Centre have large outbreaks and a majority of the COVID-19 deaths in B.C.

The province says it is aggressively monitoring and testing residents and staff in care homes to prevent transmission.

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