A $ 210 million class action lawsuit has been filed against 71 Extendicare nursing homes in Ontario, including two in Hamilton, for the chain’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit alleges that Extendicare “failed to protect the residents of the houses” “through inadequate preventive and responsive measures against the COVID-19 pandemic”, resulting in serious injuries and deaths.
“The defendants knew that the (local residents) were vulnerable and particularly vulnerable to serious or fatal complications resulting from the conclusion of COVID-19,” the lawsuit said.
“Additionally, the defendants were aware that during the pandemic period when they had no direct contact with outsiders, the (local residents) relied on the defendants for proper care, treatment and protection, especially before the completion of COVID-19. “
None of the allegations in the claim statement have been proven in court, and a judge has yet to certify the class action before the lawsuit can proceed.
In a statement, Extendicare said, “We are currently focused solely on providing quality care to our residents and supporting our families and team members.”
“Our hearts go out to our community and to those who have lost loved ones to this virus in this challenging time,” said Extendicare. “We will respond to the allegations in due course through the appropriate legal channels.”
Members of the proposed class include all residents who lived in Extendicare Ontario homes during the pandemic, as well as family members if the resident has since passed away.
The lawsuit is directed at 35 nursing homes in Ontario owned and operated by Extendicare, as well as 36 nursing homes managed by the company.
Extendicare Hamilton at 90 Chedmac Dr. on the Mountain has 180 licensed beds while the Blackadar Continuing Care Center on Creighton Road in Dundas has 80 licensed beds.
The lawsuit alleges that Extendicare Hamilton has received 93 written communications and 10 compliance orders since 2015 for violations reported by the Provincial Department of Long-Term Care, while Blackadar has received 63 written communications and 16 compliance orders since 2015.
In August, an inspection report from the Department of Extendicare Hamilton found that the home had received two compliance orders, 13 written notices and 11 voluntary corrective action plans setting out how the home will achieve compliance with certain deficiencies.
In October, an inspection report for Blackadar included an order for compliance, six written notices, and four voluntary correction plans.
Among the dozen of specific allegations in the lawsuit:
- Extendicare allegedly did not implement a proper program to prevent and control infections.
- Extendicare allegedly failed to follow “acceptable practices to prevent and control infectious respiratory diseases” such as COVID-19;
- The company allegedly did not properly train staff in infection prevention and control.
- The houses allegedly have not hired enough and appropriate staff to properly care, monitor and treat residents.
- Homes allegedly failed to maintain adequate screening and testing measures for visitors, residents and staff.
- The homes reportedly failed to comply with public health rules and guidelines regarding visitors.
The two nursing homes in Ontario with the highest numbers of COVID deaths are Tendercare in Scarborough with 73 deaths and Orchard Villa in Pickering with 70 deaths. Both houses are managed by Extendicare.
According to the lawsuit, Extendicare has allegedly received around $ 104 million federal and state funds to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On May 14, 2020, Defendant Extendicare (Canada) Inc. pledged to pay its shareholders dividends of $ 10.7 million for the first quarter of 2020,” the lawsuit said, “while it was only about Spent $ 300,000 of its own money on its shareholders. ” Response to the COVID-19 pandemic “
The lawsuit was initiated by the law firm Will Davidson LLP in Oakville and the law firm Thomson, Rogers in Toronto.