Island Health administrator appointed to troubled Comox seniors’ home

The Island Health board of directors has appointed a temporary administrator to manage and oversee the day-to-day operations of the Comox Valley Seniors Village.

The problem has been non-compliance with the Community Care and Assisted Living Act (CCALA). A news release says an investigation deemed the volume and duration of contraventions, and a lack of timely responses to address the contraventions, to be unacceptable.

“Due to the operator’s inability to meet the care expectations outlined in legislation, the board has taken the extraordinary action to appoint an administrator to manage the facility,” board chair Leah Hollins said.

Susan Abermann, who has a lengthy career in seniors care, will serve as administrator for six months, effective Sept. 30.

Abermann’s appointment was based on a recommendation from North Island Medical Health Officer Charmaine Enns, whose decision was based on evidence from Island Health’s Community Care Facilities Licensing program.

“I do not have confidence this licensee is either willing or able to come into compliance with the CCALA on their own accord,” Enns states in a report to the board.

Retirement Concepts owns CV Seniors Village. Retirement Concepts was sold to a Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group, in 2017. The Chinese government took control of Anbang’s assets in February of 2018.

The facility contains 136 beds. Island Health publicly funds 120 of the beds. The facility is managed by Pacific Reach, a Vancouver-based investment company. Calls to Pacific Reach were not returned.

Numerous routine and complaint-based inspections at the village confirmed such allegations as disease outbreak, emotional abuse and neglect.

“We’re thrilled, totally surprised,” said Delores Broten, whose husband Don has lived at CVSV for more than three years. Don is 85, and has mixed dementia. “The system does work. It works long and slow and painfully, but it does in the end work.”

Don nearly died in July after an outbreak of parainfluenza — which wasn’t recognized until the last minute.

“If they manage to keep the improvements that we’re looking for, there’s no reason for him not to live a lot longer,” said Broten, who initiated a letter-writing campaign to draw attention to continuing issues at the village.

The letter cites 22 licensing contraventions in two years, though Enns’ report outlines 45 complaints and inspections from March to August of this year.

“Most of those were not from our group (Crying Out Loud),” Broten said. “It was much bigger and more broken than we realized.

“I think part of the mandate is to get more steady staff, and that’s a critical part of care,” Broten added. “It takes a while to get to know each elder’s quirks and personality, and even their medical conditions.”

Broten said the key for anyone with concerns about conditions at a care facility is to document the concerns.

“Complaints submitted by family members of those in care were all investigated, as is every official complaint made at any of our licensed facilities,” Island Health said in a statement. “It’s important for family members of loved ones in care to officially file complaints about issues they observe so the Licensing program can formally investigate.”

This is just the third time since 2007 that Island Health has appointed an administrator at a long-term care facility. The first was in 2007 at Beacon Hill in Victoria, the second in 2013 at Joan Crescent Manor, also in Victoria.

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