Class-action lawsuit filed against Altamont nursing home by families of coronavirus victims

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against another Ontario nursing home alleging negligence over the way it handled the coronavirus pandemic.

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against another Ontario nursing home alleging negligence over the way it handled the coronavirus pandemic, reports Global News.

The $20 million case was filed against the Altamont Care Community on Monday by the families of residents who died of coronavirus.

The suit alleges that the home in Scarborough, Ont. did not “implement a proper infection prevention and control program” and did not properly train staff in response to coronavirus.

“They failed to hire sufficient or adequate staff to ensure the proper supervision of the residents of Altamont and to prevent and/or control situations of danger, including the outbreak of COVID-19,” it alleges.

The case was filed on behalf of all the Altamont home residents in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The facility is owned by Sienna Senior Living Inc. and Vigour LP is also a defendant.

Altamont was included in the five Ontario facilities that had Canadian Armed Forces medical staff deployed to them to help with the outbreaks in April. Over 50 people at the home have died.

Last week, a military report was released stating that a “significant number” of residents had pressure ulcers from being bedridden for such a long time and many were not being fed properly.

“At time of arrival many of the residents had been bed bound for several weeks; No evidence of residents being moved to wheelchairs for part of day, repositioned in bed or washed properly,” it said.

A resident at the facility who could not speak wrote a “disturbing letter” claiming that a support worker abused and neglected them. The military report also alleged that staff said degrading comments to residents.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford received the report and announced that the province would be taking control of the residence along with the other four long-term care facilities.

“What’s significant about Altamont is that they had been cited repeatedly over the years by the ministry with respect to deficiencies in their infection control protocols,” said Stephen Birman, a lawyer involved in filing the case.

“It is alleged they knew they had an issue in this area even before the pandemic struck.”

The lawsuit claims that provincial inspectors found that the home was non-compliant since 2015. Infection control and prevention were among the areas of non-compliance.

One of the plaintiffs is Vasuki Uttamalingan who lost a parent after they contracted coronavirus and passed away on April 21. Another is Pahirathan Pooranalingam who also lost a parent to coronavirus on April 25.

“Vasuki and Pahirathan represent family members of the victims who have lost loved ones, without given the opportunity to say good-bye, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak at Altamont,” said the Thomson Rogers law firm in a statement.

The firm noted that after a state of emergency was declared in Ontario on March 17, the Altamont facility “failed to implement screening measures of its staff and basic social-distancing practices, including the separation of infected and non-infected residents.”

“It is alleged that during this period, there was severe understaffing at Altamont and a failure to provide basic personal protective equipment to Altamont’s staff,” the statement said.

Sienna Senior Living is based in Markham and owns another facility called Camilla Care Community in Mississauga which the province also took over after there were at least 50 coronavirus deaths.