Woodstock Caressant Care ordered to not take new admissions
Published Friday, January 27, 2017 9:36AM EST Last Updated Friday, January 27, 2017 12:29PM EST
An Ontario long-term care home where a former nurse is accused of killing seven seniors has been ordered by the province to temporarily stop admitting new patients.
The directive concerning the Caressant Care Nursing Home in Woodstock, Ont., states that the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care has concerns about the safety of current or future residents, but does not elaborate on the nature of the concerns.
The letter, sent Wednesday to the chief executive of the Community Care Access Centre for southwest Ontario, made no mention of the recent murder charges laid against a nurse who worked at the facility for several years.
Elizabeth Wettlaufer is charged with eight counts of first-degree murder, seven of which involve former residents of the home. Two of the four attempted murder charges she also faces also concern Caressant residents, as well as a pair of aggravated assault charges against elderly sisters who lived there.
The directive, posted on a government database, refers only in vague terms to concerns about the Woodstock home.
"The ceasing of admissions has been directed based on my belief that there is a risk of harm to the health or well-being of residents in the home or persons who might be admitted as residents," wrote Karen Simpson, the director of the Long-Term Care Inspections Branch for the ministry.
The Southwest CCAC acknowledges receiving and implementing the directive on Wednesday, and a spokesman for Caressant Care said the halt on new admissions has gone into effect.
Lee Griffi said the home had been the subject of "intensive" ministry inspections for the past 90 days and said it had been ordered to "improve certain practices." He did not provide details as to the nature of the improvements, and the Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Griffi said the halt on admissions will allow Caressant Care to focus on addressing the ministry's concerns, adding the home has hired an external consultant to help with the changes.
"We are confident that these actions enable us to better provide for the physical, social and spiritual needs of our residents," he said in a statement.
Caressant Care owns 15 long-term care homes in Ontario, but the Woodstock facility is the only one affected by the orders, Griffi said.
The timing of the inspections at the Woodstock home coincides roughly with Wettlaufer's arrest.
Police launched an investigation in late September after becoming aware of information the 49-year-old former nurse had given to a psychiatric hospital in Toronto that caused them concern, a police source has told The Canadian Press.
In October, Wettlaufer was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of residents at nursing homes in Woodstock and London, Ont. Police alleged Wettlaufer used drugs to kill the seniors while she worked at the facilities between 2007 and 2014.
Earlier this month, police laid additional attempted murder and aggravated assault charges and exhumed two bodies as part of their ongoing investigation.
The allegations against Wettlaufer have not been proven in court.
The next court hearing in her case is set for Feb. 15.