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Seniors homes operated by Daughter on Call were in violation of multiple provincial health regulations prior to the organization being fined in May, provincial documents show.
The Sun filed a freedom of information request for the compliance order the province issued to Daughter on Call on May 14, after a public health inspection May 13. The fines totalled more than $5,000 for failing to comply with a public emergency health order.
The province sent back 60 pages, including copies of the tickets issued to Daughter on Call, internal emails and residential care facility inspection reports. The Sun first made the request on May 21, but didn’t receive the documents until July 23.
Daughter on Call CEO and owner Gail Freeman-Campbell could not be reached by phone on Friday afternoon for comment.
On May 13, public health inspector April Gravelle conducted an unannounced inspection at The Nest, a Daughter on Call-operated residential care home in Brandon. According to the report, the inspection was requested by the Prairie Mountain Health medical officer of health in response to a regional COVID-19 investigation.
The inspection found 17 infractions, including not having proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures. The inspector said it was unclear if the cleaning product on hand, Mr. Clean, was a disinfectant.
"This particular product does not state that it is a disinfectant. To ensure pathogens such as COVID-19 are killed, it is important to disinfect high-touch surfaces, bathroom chairs, floors, fixtures etc. between resident use or as often as necessary," Gravelle wrote.
She also noted other infractions, such as with food safety, hand-drying towels and residents not social distancing when eating.
On May 13, Gravelle said, inspectors went to another home operated by Daughter on Call, the Kirbyson Home at 1323 Eighth St., but were not allowed inside.
"We rang the bell but nobody answered the door. The WSH (Workplace Safety and Health) Officer called the owner to advise we were there for the inspection. She explained to the officer that staff were too busy to let us in for the inspection," she wrote.
A similar situation happened at a third Daughter on Call home on May 13, Freeman Estate, at 2534 McTavish Ave.
"There was a female on the back deck of the property and I went up the ramp and introduced myself. As I was doing this someone came out of the door from inside the home (behind me) and told her to get in the house. The person rushed in the house and then they closed and locked the door," the report reads.
"I knocked but they did not answer."
In response to the inspection, Gravelle issued an emergency health hazard order to The Nest on May 14. The document orders Daughter on Call to implement "appropriate cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection procedures," physically distance residents, provide handwashing supplies throughout the home and monitor the health of all residents and staff.
The order also tells the company not to carry out its own contact tracing about suspected COVID-19 cases.
In a May 15 email sent to Prairie Mountain Health medical officer of health Dr. Amy Frykoda, Gravelle said she returned to The Nest for a followup inspection with Brandon police. The email says Freeman-Campbell arrived around the same time, asked why the inspector was there and then unlocked the front door.
Once inside, Gravelle noted, there was no sanitizer or disinfectant in the kitchen, in violation of the order issued the previous day. She also alleges in the email that staff were not wearing personal protective equipment and saw residents not physical distancing.
Gravelle said Freeman-Campbell told her there was difficulty getting PPE at the time.
"I explained to her that may be true, but she can easily get bleach and sanitize dishes and disinfect," the email reads.
The health inspector returned to three Daughter on Call residences on May 20 for another round of inspections after the medical officer of health order was issued on May 14. The conditions were better than at The Nest, but Gravelle still noted infractions.
At Journey Villas, at 553 Main St. in Carberry, Gravelle found 13 infractions, including around staff knowledge of COVID-19.
"Reviewed COVID-screening tool and procedures with staff," the inspector wrote. "They are using an app for monitoring themselves each day. The app doesn’t include all the symptoms listed on the Manitoba Health website and the full list of symptoms was not provided."
At Freeman Estate, Gravelle found six infractions, including staff not frequently using the dishwasher to wash dishes. She said PPE was provided and staff were "quite aware" of COVID-19 symptoms.
At Kirbyson Home, Gravelle found eight infractions. At that residence, she said staff were wearing masks, but "didn’t seem able to list all the symptoms" of the virus.
The Sun reported in May that a health-care aide at the Brandon-based organization that cares for seniors and runs personal care homes had tested positive for COVID-19 on May 10. Another staff member tested negative for the virus after coming into contact with the person who was ill at a private residence.
In three phone calls with The Brandon Sun in May, Freeman-Campbell repeatedly denied a Daughter on Call employee had tested positive for COVID-19, despite the Sun having evidence to the contrary in the form of internal memos sent to staff as well as anonymous former and now-former employees speaking out.
After the story was published, Freeman-Campbell said she had denied the case in an effort to protect the sick employee’s confidentiality.
» Twitter: @DrewMay_
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