Witnesses from Telfer Place testify in long-term-care home inquiry

Elizabeth Wettlaufer is escorted by police from the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont, Monday, June 26, 2017. Dave Chidley / The Canadian Press

The executive director of the last long-term care home where Elizabeth Wettlaufer worked says the convicted nurse didn’t just rob people of their lives or their health, she robbed people of feeling peace in a decision to go to a nursing home.

“Pretty much everyone wants to die before you move into long-term care, given the option,” said Dian Shannon, who heads Telfer Place in Paris, Ont.

“We were trying really hard to create that environment where people felt good about moving into long-term care. She stole that away from everybody, that idea that ‘this can be OK, I’m not betraying my parents, I’m not betraying my loved one.'”

READ MORE: Caressant Care gave Elizabeth Wettlaufer multiple warnings before termination, inquiry hears

Shannon testified during hearings Tuesday for the public inquiry into long-term care. Telfer Place is the home where Wettlaufer attempted to murder Sandra Towler in September 2015.

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The commission heard from Shannon that staff would complain that Wettlaufer was lazy, wouldn’t finish tasks, and wouldn’t relay information to other registered staff.

In one case, Shannon described how Wettlaufer didn’t fully bathe Towler, when an stomach bug outbreak caused her to have diarrhea.

“I washed her down, and Beth said ‘OK that’s good enough’, and I look and I can still see, on Sandy’s back, you could that there’s still some soil.”

Sherri Toleff, a director of care at Tefler Place, described to the inquiry the difference between the orientation for agency nurses (the kind of training Wettlaufer would have received), and Telfer Place nurses.

READ MORE: Wettlaufer was subject of complaints, allowed to go on working, inquiry hears

Despite being expected to complete the same tasks as regular nurses within the same time frame, Toleff said agency nurses were trained for between 4-8 hours, while regular nurses would be trained during two shifts on each days, evenings, and nights.

“With agency nurses, the turnaround time to onboard them was much shorter,” Toleff explained. “We didn’t know if we were going to be using a particular nurse again.”

Wettlaufer confessed to her crimes in late 2016, and was sentenced to life behind bars for eight counts of first degree murder, four counts of attempted murder, and two counts of aggravated assault.

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The public inquiry is tasked with examining how she was able to hurt and kill patients with overdoses of insulin without being detected for ten years, and hearings will continue through the summer and into September.

The commission will make its recommendations July 21, 2019.

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