DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon was inspected by the Ministry of Long Term Care in the summer of 2020 after a complaint was filed about the facility’s infection control measures.


In an inspection report, recently found by The Standard, the ministry found the facility failed to comply with Ontario regulations regarding infection prevention and control (IPAC).


A COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the facility in March of 2020 and saw 28 people die from COVID-19.


Regarding physical distancing, the report states, “on a specified date, two staff were observed sitting outside the home under a gazebo, within two feet of one another and not maintaining the required 6- foot distance from each other or wearing masks.”


“Later the same day, two staff were observed sitting in a car together, in the parking lot, both in the front seat and not physical[ly] distancing or wearing a mask,” the report added.


The inspectors also saw two residents “sitting in the lounge in their wheelchairs, within three feet of each other, and neither resident was wearing a mask.”


The home also did not have enough staff to clean, after the outbreak was declared, at the facility last year.


“The licensee did not ensure adequate housekeeping staff were available in the home, to complete the required cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces, before and during their outbreak,” the inspection report stated.


The ministry found the home did not do enough to control the outbreak.


“Measures to prevent the transmission of infections include; but are not limited to: hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, surveillance, appropriate donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE), cohorting residents, proper glove use and physical distancing. The licensee failed to ensure staff participated in implementing these measures to minimize or prevent the transmission of infections,” the report found.


As well, the ministry found the “licensee failed to ensure that staff monitor symptoms of infection in residents, on every shift, in accordance with evidence-based practices.”


A nursing shift report, provided as part of the investigation, “indicated there were a number of residents [who] were exhibiting symptoms a number of days before they were placed in isolation, and before the suspected outbreak was reported” to Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.


Lastly, the ministry also concluded, the licensee failed to make sure “the information, [which] was gathered on every shift about the residents’ infections, was analyzed daily to detect the presence of infection and reviewed at least monthly.”


The Licensee of Pinecrest Nursing Home is Medlaw Corporation Limited.


Jenelle Whalen, the home’s administrator, who took over from now-retired administrator Mary Carr, provided The Standard with a statement on the matter.


“The last resident COVID-19 case at Pinecrest was in Spring 2020. The health and safety of our residents and our staff remains our number one priority. We are taking every step necessary to prevent the virus from entering our home,” the emailed statement read. “Our standard protocol, when a resident exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19, is to immediately isolate the resident and perform a swab test. The resident will remain isolated until the results of the test are available. If the test comes back positive, Public Health is immediately notified, and the resident [will] remain isolated for the next 14 days.”


She added a list of measures the facility has taken since the start of the pandemic, including: additional cleaning equipment and enhanced cleaning techniques, mandatory staff training in IPAC standards and protocols, a steady supply of personal protective equipment for staff members and “regular rapid surveillance testing of staff, caregivers, visitors and support workers.”


“Additionally, we have hired an Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) [Registered Nurse], to oversee and implement all necessary IPAC measures in our home. We have also hired a physician medical director, who is directly affiliated with the local hospital. We continue to work closely with Public Health and the Ministry of Health, to ensure all correct protocols are followed and all necessary steps are taken, to prevent COVID-19 from entering our home,” the administrator’s statement added. “Pinecrest also participates in regular Public Health meetings with other nursing homes to discuss IPAC best practices. This is an ongoing process, as part of our commitment to continuous improvement.”