When Phyllis Munro called the nursing station at Waverly Seniors Village in the evening last Friday there was no answer.
The 93-year-old Waverly resident tried again and again to get a nurse to provide her with her medication, blood thinners and beta blockers among the nearly two dozen pills she takes.
Eventually she gave up, according to her son who lives on Vancouver Island.
“None of the many residents received their medications,” Ric Munro told The Progress. “No one was on hand to deal with any medical situation. This to me seems serious and could have resulted in tragedy.”
Lillian and Fred Reason also live in the assisted living side of the Waverly and tell a similar story about Feb. 14, 2020.
“No one on the assisted living side received medication on the 14th,” Lillian told The Progress Tuesday. “It’s a whole safety issue. You cannot leave 70 people that need medication, even if it’s 40 of them, not receiving that medication.”
Lillian said someone did answer the call to the nursing station when she called, but it was a licensed practical nurse (LPN) rather than a registered nurse (RN) and he told the 73-year-old to just leave her nitrogylcerin patch on until morning.
“I couldn’t do that,” she said. “I said ‘I can’t do that because if they come and put another one on in the morning I would be overdosing.’”
Lillian is able so she took the patch off herself, and punched out her pills from the blister packs herself. But there are others at the facility who might not have been able to and who need serious medications to be administered by, or be overseen by, an RN.
“Some have nitro patches, other heart medications as well as people with blood pressure medications and insulin, all kinds of stuff,” she said.
Ongoing issues have plagued the Waverly in recent months leading to the designation by Fraser Health that it is a “high risk facility,” which puts it into “progressive enforcement” including monthly follow-up inspections.
“The follow-up inspections will continue on a monthly basis until we are satisfied that the action plan put in place for the facility from the routine inspection is being implemented,” Fraser Health public affairs consultant Dixon Tam said via email.
“In regards to the complaint about lack of staffing on Feb. 14, it’s our understanding that the complaint is from tenants who are in the assisted living section of Waverly. Fraser Health’s assisted living team is following up on the complaint.”
The last report posted about the Waverly by Fraser Health from Dec. 16 2019 found contraventions involving self-monitoring, staffing shortages, staff implementation of policies and procedures, and activity programming.
In that report, on 14 days in October and November, the RN schedule showed that on two night shifts there was an LPN in place of an RN, and the LPN schedule showed one day when there was no LPN on shift.
An examination of publicly available inspection reports of Chilliwack residential care facilities show violations at many homes, but none as frequent as at Waverly Seniors Village.
The Waverly is a Retirement Concepts facility owned by a Chinese holding company, Anbang Insurance Group. Day-to-day operations are run by West Coast Seniors Housing Management (WCSHM). Retirement Concepts runs 20 senior care home and was purchased by the Beijing-based company in 2017 for $1 billion.
In an emailed statement, WCSHM chief operating officer and partner Jennie Deneka said WCSHM is Canadian based with over 30 years of experience in the industry.
Deneka attributed the problems at the Waverly to industry-wide staffing shortages.
“The entire seniors care sector is experiencing a labour shortage, which is having an impact on all service providers, and our ability to meet all licensing requirements at all times,” Deneka said. “It is largely because of this challenge that the Waverly Seniors Facility has been designated high risk. Our number one priority is ensuring residents get the care they need and deserve, and despite these challenges, a full complement of staff were on hand over the long weekend.”
When asked what they are told by management, Lillian and Fred Reason confirmed that the facility is understaffed and can’t find enough employees.
But that’s not good enough, they say.
“I didn’t move in here to have this extra added stress in my life,” Lillian said. “But I don’t want to just sit back and have everybody pushed around and mistreated and not get their meds.”
Lillian said they feel the company is not doing anything about it, and she wanted to speak out despite concern that there might be consequences for going public.
“I know very well that I might be putting myself at risk,” she said. “I’ll deal with that however I have to deal with that.”
Fraser Health had also made the decision to hold new admissions to Fraser Health-funded beds at the Waverly, while the owners made the decision to hold new admissions to private-pay beds, Tam told The Progress.
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