Staffing problems played role in COVID-19 crisis at Residence Herron, manager tells inquiry

The manager of a Montreal long-term care home where 47 residents died during the first wave of the COVID-19  pandemic told a coroner’s inquiry Wednesday that staffing issues played a part in the crisis.

Andrei Stanica, who oversaw the now-shuttered Residence Herron, says the replacement of experienced staff in January 2020 with workers from a temp agency and the lack of a director of care contributed to what happened.

But Stanica says he tried his best to ensure the best care and adds that when he fell ill and left the facility on March 27, there were no reports of a catastrophic situation.

Read more: Quebec coroner questions why more wasn’t done to help neglected Herron residents

He says he was surprised two days later when regional health authorities announced trusteeship plans for the private care home.

The inquiry has heard that regional health authorities found residents dehydrated, unfed and soiled when they entered the facility on March 29.

Coroner Géhane Kamel said Wednesday that Herron’s staffing woes seem to have been mitigated by the fact families were taking care of residents, but then provincial health authorities banned visitors in mid-March to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Kamel’s mandate is to investigate 53 deaths in 2020 at six long-term care homes and one seniors residence — including 47 at Herron — and come up with recommendations.

READ MORE: Health officials, Herron staff clashed as COVID-19 situation got worse, Quebec coroner hears

Kamel said there are many contradictions in the testimony she’s heard during the inquest into Herron, and wondered openly if management at the private facility was cutting corners on equipment purchases and hiring unskilled employees.

“But it degenerated to a point where people who are illegal came in to work with vulnerable people who were left on their own,” Kamel said. “So when you look at the big picture, in retrospect, we can say it went out of control and the victims of all this are elderly people.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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