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Calgary nursing home changes wound care after deaths of two residents

EDMONTON - A Calgary nursing home where two residents died of neglect over the last year is making changes to how it takes care of wounds and dressings.

The McKenzie Towne Care Centre is to track patients' wounds on a computer to make sure no one is missed and a provincial consultant is to check in regularly, Health Minister Fred Horne said Friday.

The centre also plans to give staff more training, implement updated care plans for residents and explore ways to give families more say.

The 150-bed care centre is run privately by Revera Inc. under contract to the province.

Horne had said in December when reports of the deaths first surfaced that he was considering pulling Revera's contract.

But following audits by his department and Alberta Health Services, which handles front-line care, Horne is satisfied that such drastic action isn't required.

"I don't think the findings of the AHS report, at least as they've been explained to me, suggest that there's a systemic problem in the facility," he said. "In fact, it reinforces for me that the residents who are there are safe.

"There were some quality issues identified, but there's action being taken."

The audits found:

— Gaps in documenting ongoing resident care and in basic resident information.

— Management of aggressive and violent behaviour of residents was not up to standard in some cases.

— Oxygen and chemicals were left unsafely stored in unlocked rooms.

The audits were ordered after two residents died from blood poisoning.

The death of Violet MacDonald came to light when her family went public in December with their concerns. Relatives said MacDonald, who was 73 and who had dementia, was left in a soiled diaper for two days last February. They said that infected existing bed sores and caused blood poisoning.

MacDonald was treated in hospital, but was bed-ridden thereafter and died in October.

Relatives also said McKenzie Towne staff misled them about how serious the wounds were and once barred the family entrance to MacDonald's room by propping a chair against the door.

The family of Wyonne Somers, 75, said she died last fall after she developed a severe urinary infection and leg sores because her diaper was not changed frequently enough.

Revera runs 15 seniors homes in Alberta and 242 across North America.

Kerry Towle, seniors issues critic for the Wildrose party, said that for everyone's long-term benefit, Horne needed to dig deeper to determine the root causes that led to the lapses in care at McKenzie Towne.

She noted that when MacDonald's death first came to light, the government tried to dismiss it as a one-off aberration.

"The only way to find solutions to the problems is to get to the root cause of the problem in the first place, said Towle.

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