BY CLOVER STERLING
Local resident Innis Ingram (above) chains himself to a tree during a hunger strike to protest the ongoing lack of communication regarding the conditions in Camilla Care Community in south Mississauga. On Wednesday, Sienna Senior Living, which operates Camilla, said it would deploy resources in response to whistle blower accusations.
The son of a resident living in a nursing home in south Mississauga is demanding that it be inspected immediately, in the wake of grim findings found by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in long term care homes across the province. Innis Ingram, whose mother is a resident at Camilla Care Community, said he has been hearing false, mixed reports of both the infected rate and the amount of deaths in the home, and says that only promises are being made for a thorough inspection which still has not been carried out. Ingram’s strike began on the same day that the CAF report outlined disturbing conditions at local long-term care facilities, including improper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by staff and doctors; staff reusing gloves or not washing hands between resident interactions; the presence of insects; repeated use of medical equipment without being disinfected and residents calling for help with no response for up to two hours. Ingram told Asia Metro last week that his many pleas went unheard, so he started a hunger strike, chaining himself to a tree next to the long-term care facility.
“I have been particularly disappointed with the lack of communication from the Premier’s office,” said Ingram, who indicated that that he has emailed local politicians with the hopes of getting a one-on one meeting and direct answers to his concerns. “I was hoping that I could have an off-camera conversation with (Premier Doug) Ford or (Minister) Merillee Fullerton, where they could explain the obstacles that they are facing in terms of implementing things…. I realise there are always two sides to a story, but there has been no contact.”
At the heart of Ingram’s issue is the disconnect between press releases distributed by Sienna Senior Living, which manages Camilla Care, and stated several weeks ago that 50 cases of COVID- 19 were present in the facility, in contrast to Peel Public Health, which reported 114 cases among residents, 36 among staff and 7 deaths.
“That was the catalyst for trying to unite the families, so we created a group called Camilla Care Community on Face- Book”. He said. “it’s Innis Ingram holds a notice regarding Camilla Care Community while standing in front of a community mural last week. (Submitted) for hearing all the stories of the families and how many people were being lost. We want to create something that offers a sense of closure to the families that are not able to have funerals right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a visual representation of the amount of people that have passed,” Ingram said. Camilla Care is not the only long-term care home owned by Sienna that has made the news, with the neighbouring Altamont Care Community making the news after being identified in the CAJ report, having suffered more than 50 deaths at the facility since the onset of the outbreak.
On Monday, families of Altamont patients filed a $20-million class action suit against Sienna, alleging negligence and proper infection protection at the facility. “We are aware of the proposed class action and are in the process of reviewing the details of the claim,” Sienna said in a statement. The company also indicated Wednesday evening that it was made aware of the allegations at Camilla Care through a whistle blower, and is now dedicating resources to investigating the allegations.
“We want to assure the families of our residents that we are very well-equipped to continue to care for our residents throughout the pandemic. At this time, our focus is solely on the care and well being of our residents and team members and we are working collaboratively with all partners to ensure that each of our long term care homes meets and surpasses ministry standards,” the company’s statement read. After four days, Ingram’s demonstration ended when he was presented with a letter from Trillium Health Partners affirming temporary take over of the home, status reporting and transparent communication with the families in the next two weeks. While his mother has not tested positive for COVID-19, he remains hopeful. “I feel very confident in Trillium management, so far there will be no reason not to trust them.
The next step is the inspection and assessment of the facilities,” said Ingram. “I have the utter most faith in (Trillium).” Subsequent to the letter, Ingram received a disturbing email the same day from a Trillium staff member who was deployed to Camilla Care five weeks prior. The email which is now posted to Facebook details the abuse that was happening in the home “I understand that this is a difficult time for health care facilities, but the things that have been witnessed are inexcusable,” read the post, which was written by an individual named “Stephanie” who works as a Personal Care Assistant at Trillium. The identity of “Stephanie” was not immediately verified, as of press time.
“Through my time at Camilla Care, I have worked when we are fully staffed and when we are extremely understaffed, and it goes to show that obviously the quantity of staff matters, but the quantity doesn’t matter if there’s no quality…. when I first witnessed odd work ethics, I pushed it aside and told myself it was caregiver fatigue. It did not take long for me to realize that the majority of behaviors entailed elder abuse.” The message went on to say that staff at Camilla are “poorly educated,” force feeding residents, feeding a deceased patient, and causing physical abuse and neglect. “I understand the unique circumstances, and I am not aware of all the protocols, but I strongly believe that Camilla Care needs better employees, more employees and better employees,” the message read, which also acknowledges the work of other staff members who have gone above and beyond to help residents.
“I truly believe that certain staff are under qualified and should not be trusted with a vulnerable life… the valuable staff at Camilla are outnumbered by the poor ones. They deserve better and I know there has to be something we can do.