For ‘lengthy periods’, one single nurse was responsible to care for the entire population at Lundy Manor where at least 18 people have lost their lives to COVID-19, a class-action lawsuit against the home alleges.
On Wednesday, Oakville lawyer Gary Will of Will Davidson LLP filed a statement of claim with the courts, on behalf of the surviving family members of residents at the Niagara Falls retirement home who died while living at the home.
The representative plaintiff is listed as the estate of a woman who lived at the home and died after falling ill with the virus, and the defendant Oxford Living, the company who runs Lundy Manor as of October 2019.
According to the statement, the retirement home failed to act as the province rolled out a slew of tightening guidelines in the first weeks of March in efforts to keep the virus in check, including training and issuing proper guidelines to staff.
“They failed to institute reasonable measures to prevent COVID-19 from infecting residents of Lundy Manor, such as undertaking proper screening of visitors and practicing social distancing,” the lawsuit claims.
None of the allegations have been proven in court, and the company has 20 days to respond.
On March 12 the lawsuit alleges that Lundy Manor arranged for a girls basketball team to perform a demonstration for the residents of the home - the day after the World Health Organization declared the global situation a pandemic.
The retirement home, according to the lawsuit: “allowed groups of residents to continue playing cards on a nightly base and continued to host bingo games, with numerous individuals handling the same playing cards and bingo cards.”
The lawsuit says a number of these residents contracted COVID-19, and ended up passing away from it.
In the statement, the legal team also mentions a previously reported March 28 pub night, staged by the home on the same day that Ontario issued emergency orders despite a significant death toll in many Ontario long-term care facilities.
Two days later, Public Health declared an outbreak at the facility.
The lawsuit says a nurse, who held a casual position at Lundy Manor wrote in an email to the executive director of the home:
“I was wanting to help, but I’m not going to endanger myself or my family. In my opinion, Lundy Manor is a time bomb. I’m willing to work again once the situation is under control.”
Allegations that staff faced pressure is laid out in the court documents, as the lawsuit describes how one single nurse was responsible for the care of the homes residents ‘for lengthy periods of time’.
“For lengthy periods, Lundy Manor expected a single nurse, lacking adequate training, to care for the entirety of its residents without providing any established or proper protocols. A single nurse had to administer routine medications to all residents, which are critical for those residents who require cardiac medication or similar essential medications,” the claim reads.
"While doing so, this single nurse had to assess residents for COVID-19, including taking swabs. Finally, these nurses had to make the decision to call 911 and send the residents to the hospital due to respiratory distress," it continues.
Lawyer Gary Wills told Thorold News in an earlier interview that at least one nurse working a single-shift ended up contracting COVID-19, and was still recovering in self-isolation.
Tim Foster, vice president of Oxford Living told Thorold News in an email that they had not been served with a copy of the claim, and did not respond to a request for an interview.