The Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) has issued an order to revoke the licence of the Rosslyn Retirement Residence in Hamilton, site of the city's deadliest COVID-19 outbreak.
The decision came after "careful review and consideration" and was based on information gathered during inspections, complaints and reports from staff and the public, stated director of communications Kathryn Chopp in an email to CBC.
"This has been a disruptive and extremely upsetting situation for all the residents and their families," she added.
"We're working with the City of Hamilton and other community resources to ensure residents are supported as they consider alternate housing options."
The privately-owned home associated with the Martino family was evacuated on May 15, with the majority being transported to hospital, following an outbreak that infected 64 of 66 residents and 22 staff members.
Fourteen people who lived at the home have died. That number represents roughly a third of all COVID-19 related deaths in the city.
Brian Melnike's mother Joan Wallace is one of the home's residents who remain in hospital.
The 87-year-old seemed to be doing better in recent days, but has taken a turn for the worse and is in critical condition, said her son.
"Now we don't think she'll make it."
Hearing the Rosslyn's licence was revoked was "complete news" to Melnike Monday evening, but he said he's not surprised.
The revocation happened after the owners were given an opportunity to respond the the RHRA's concerns, said Chopp.
"The Registrar provided a notice of intent to revoke the licence on June 4, and then adhered to a mandated confidential quiet period that allows the home an opportunity to respond as outlined in the Retirement Homes Act," she explained.
"Under law, the licensee now has the opportunity to appeal the order to the Licence Appeal Tribunal and may also apply for a stay of the revocation order."
In the meantime, the Rosslyn is not able to bring back current residents or welcome any new ones.
Financial support is also available for Rosslyn residents through the RHRA's emergency fund, according to Chopp.
It's not clear where residents who are recovered or will recover will end up, a question family members have raised but not received answers to.
Representatives of the home have not responded to repeated requests for comment on the situation of the home or plans to reopen.
Inspections raised infection control issues
Even before it was emptied, inspections by public health and the RHRA identified issues around infection prevention and control and a "failure to protect residents from neglect" and ordered the home's owner to make changes before it could reopen.
A separate inspection of the kitchen uncovered mouse droppings, black mould and "fuzzy dust."
"There's a feeling of guilt even through we didn't know all of this up front," said Melnike. "Had she been in a different place she wouldn't be where she was today."
After the home was cleared Paul Johnson, director of Hamilton's emergency operation's centre described what happened inside as a "crisis."
During a later media briefing he said the home lacked a "true understanding in the training and the knowledge around how important infection prevention and control is" and said screening of people coming in and out of the building was "simply not happening."
Ontario NDP leader Horwath described the Rosslyn as a "house of horrors, not a home" in a statement Monday. She also described conditions there as "squalid" and calling for the RHRA to revoke its licence along with seven other homes linked to the Martinos.
"We continue to monitor all retirement homes, including those owned Martino families," Chopp wrote. "Where appropriate, the RHRA has issued orders and taken regulatory action, in accordance with the law."
Chopp said the regulator does inspections based on what's described by community partners, but noted "everyone has a role to play in protecting our most vulnerable," before asking residents, families and visitors to report any issues.
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