IH appoints administrator to oversee Florentine operations

·5 min read

The Interior Health Board of Administrators has appointed an administrator to manage the day-to-day long-term care operations of the Florentine senior’s care home in Merritt.

The appointment follows a host of operating infractions that were recently made public in a report by Interior Health. The board’s decision to appoint an administrator, which will be a full time position for a period of four months subject to adjustments if conditions warrant, came at the recommendation of Interior Health Medical Health Officer, Dr. Carol Fenton.

“I strongly support the decision by the Interior Health Board of Directors to appoint an administrator,” said BC Health Minister Adrian Dix.

“We have and will continue to put the care and safety of seniors first before any other consideration, which is what is happening here.”

Dr. Fenton concluded that the operator of the long-term care facility was unable to meet the legislated standards of care for residents after several regular inspections by Interior Health’s Licensing and Quality Department.

“This decision is based on ensuring seniors who live in long-term care receive the high quality, safe and dignified care they need,” said Interior Health board chair Dr. Doug Cochrane.

“Interior Health’s board of directors has full confidence in the decision presented by staff and it is our top priority to ensure The Florentine is brought into legislative compliance.”

According to the findings of a reviews process by Interior Health’s Licensing Officers and Quality Review Team, several issues were highlighted at the residence, which indicated that expectations defined in the Provincial Community Care and Assisted Living Act were not being met.

Ongoing challenges were listed as site leadership and care planning, as well as staff education, training and reporting.

“Recommending the appointment of an administrator is an option reserved as a last resort solution to ensure people get the standard of care they need,” said Interior Health chief medical health officer, Dr. Albert De Villiers.

“I am confident that with the appointment of Matt Renfrew as administrator, Interior Health will be able to stabilize The Florentine’s operations and set it down a path towards improved conditions for its residents, staff and leadership alike.”

Renfrew will be responsible for operation and management of the Florentine, supporting critical functions such as:

In his role as administrator, Renfrew will report to the IH board chair.

According to IH, “Matt Renfrew is an experienced health-care leader with expertise in long-term care. He has managed at the Overlander long term care home in Kamloops since 2013 and is currently Interior Health’s interim director of clinical operations for Community Seniors Care.”

The Florentine consists of 20 independently funded long-term care beds on the second floor, which the administrator will oversee. The assisted living portion of the facility falls under the jurisdiction of the Assisted Living Registrar and is not subject to the administration process being applied to the long-term care section of the home.

Owner of The Florentine, Frank Rizzardo, spoke to the Herald regarding Interior Health’s decision, taking the opportunity to clarify what he believes are several misconceptions, also claiming that IH had informed him they would not be issuing the press release until the staff and families of the affected individuals were spoken to.

“I don’t believe that our residents are at any risk in terms of care,” said Rizzardo.

“The fact that we haven’t necessarily filled out a form doesn’t, in itself, create a risk for a resident… I’ll give you an example, are you aware that if you have a hospital bed against a wall that’s considered a restraint? So, because we put a hospital bed against a wall at the request of the family to help prevent the client from falling on the floor and possibly breaking a hip, which we’ve had happen, but we didn’t get a piece of paper that has to be filed about that bed against the wall, it’s classified as a restraint. We didn’t fill that paper out so that’s a demerit on our plan. And that’s the kind of review that has been done, it’s very dogmatic, relative to the Act.”

Rizzardo said that in this case, they have taken note and moved the bed away from the wall, but he believes there should be more room for interpretation of the policies outlined in the Act, when it is in a resident’s best interest.

“If that individual falls, as we’ve had happen, because we’re trying to comply with IHA guidelines, that individual ends up fracturing a hip and then going to the hospital,” said Rizzardo.

“That is not our goal. Our goal is not to have them in the hospital at all, but the regulations are the regulations, and we’ll have to work out whether or not we’re going to appeal or take other action relative to the decision of IHA.”

According to Rizzardo, there is a 30-day window for The Florentine to appeal IH’s decision. In the meantime, he hopes to hear back on the compliance plan, which he said was submitted on Mar. 16 and has not received any response.

“We’ve actually submitted a compliance plan, actually multiple compliance plans to the licensing officer and in a lot of instances the licensing officer’s responses are simple, ‘your compliance plan is not accepted’, with a period,” said Rizzardo.

A consultant RN was also brought in nearly a month ago to help The Florentine discover and correct any deficiencies in their operations, something Renfrew and IH were allegedly not aware of.

“That tells you the degree of up to date-ness, if you wish, of the process,” said Rizzardo.

In the meantime, the consultant RN and the on-site director will meet with Renfrew to discuss operations, how to ensure compliance and the process for returning the administration position back over to Florentine staff.

“We’ve been in operation 14 years, we’ve never had any issues up to now, but we have a licensing officer who is bent on making sure we tick all the boxes, or we’re not in compliance,” Rizzardo said.

“But that’s just the way it is, and we have to resign ourselves to the fact that this is an opportunity perhaps for staff to learn from someone who is running a much larger facility.”

Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald