In an update to her extensive 2021 investigation into the COVID-19 outbreak at Extendicare long-term care facilities, Saskatchewan’s ombudsman said she hasn’t received confirmation from the organization that any of her recommendations have been accepted.
Extendicare, though said in an email that it has implemented all of the recommendations.
Those recommendations include that Extendicare issue formal, written apologies to the families of the 39 residents who died as a direct result of contracting COVID-19 during the outbreak.
“The apology in my view is something Extendicare Canada should be doing to all of the families that had loved ones in the home at that time,” Ombudsman Mary McFadyen said Thursday after publishing her annual report for 2021.
“I know that there is a class-action lawsuit that has been announce, but under Saskatchewan law an apology is not an admission of guilt in a civil lawsuit. There is no reason for them not to apologize to those families.”
The ombudsman’s investigation concluded with four recommendations for Extendicare, including the call for an apology.
They included that Extendicare conduct a comprehensive critical incident review, develop a strategy to ensure its staff comply with its own and SHA policies, and that it ensures sufficient resources to prevent infections.
“Extendicare (Canada) Inc. has not accepted these recommendations. We gave it several opportunities to confirm with us whether it had accepted them, and whether it intended to implement them. It did not respond,” the new report reads.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, an Extendicare spokesperson said the recommendations were accepted, but did not detail any specific plans for apologizing to affected families.
“Extendicare has implemented all four recommendations included in the Ombudsman’s report,” the statement read.
“Under the co-management agreement in place with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, we continue to work collaboratively with them in the best interest of residents and their families.”
The ombudsman’s Extendicare investigation revealed that 194 of Parkside’s 198 residents and 132 of its staff got COVID-19 during the outbreak.
The provincial government has since announced plans to have the Saskatchewan Health Authority permanently take control of Extendicare’s facilities in Saskatchewan.
McFadyen called her team’s investigations into incidents at long-term care homes the “highlight” of ombudsman’s work in 2021.
Also noted in her report were an in-depth investigation into the death of a long-term care resident who fell in her bathroom in an SHA long-term care facility, and a dispute regarding decision-making for a resident between the resident’s daughter and the SHA.