I was not completely anonymous when I came forward in December 2010 describing the consequences of a micromanager at the Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge. One councillor was aware a letter was sent to city council.
This is how we found out the severity of censorship (obstruction of justice) within the city as council did not receive their personal mail, at least twice!
The letter was e-mailed two weeks after the original letter was sent, and only after Mr. Kilger was confronted. I decided to share publicly my original letter of complaint that was initially withheld from council.
Re: Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge
This letter is to address the chronic concerns disclosed by residents, families and staff regarding Donna Derouchie and the city’s dereliction in connection to these complaints.
Bill 168, talks about a process in which a complaint is made regarding bullying in the workplace. The process becomes difficult when the complaint is about an administrator. It becomes more difficult knowing that her interpretation is the only report heard by city administration.
Last December, letters to the editor generated many complaints concerning Mrs. Derouchie. It demonstrated an overall dissatisfaction with her interpersonal, leadership and decision making skills. Residents, staff, families and the public raised many questions and concerns. These messages were clearly presented to the CAO. For those who have tried to speak up, including residents and certain members of council, nothing has been done. They’ve waited and waited and nothing. No validation of feelings, no support, no investigation, NOTHING!!! The only reassurance they got was a false promise.
These concerns warranted an evaluation process from all sources ie: residents, staff etc., but no one was questioned except Mrs. Derouchie. Many have lost their faith in the process including many city counsellors who were consulted numerous times by residents and families but still couldn’t satisfy the needs and concerns that were brought to their attention. I question why these concerns haven’t been addressed because the same problems continue to exist at the Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge. Residents, families and staff feel they have been abandoned by the ministry, advocacy groups and city administration. This letter is to advocate for each and everyone of them.
Areas of concern:
There is no manager on call during the weekend. Nurses are often left dealing with situations blinded and with no support. No one is designated to be on call to help deal with emergencies which may arise over the weekend. The reassurance that Mrs. Derouchie will be home over the weekend and to call her anytime isn’t working. Phone calls placed to her go unanswered frequently with no return phone calls even after messages have been left for her to phone back. Other homes have an on-call system where managers take turns covering for the weekend in case a “crisis” occurs and everyone is aware of who is in charge via memo. A very simple solution yet an important plan. No point having a fan out plan if the chief doesn’t answer their phone.
Morale at the lodge is toxic. She insists that it starts from everyone who is beneath her, that is not the case. Mrs. Derouchie ignores staff when she sees them in the hallway, she won’t greet them with a hello, she won’t even smile. When she is upset, she shuts her door and closes the blinds. A passive-aggressive approach, so much for the open door policy or being approachable. Staff say they have to wait until she is in a good mood before they can address anything with her. This mood varies throughout the day, every day.
She is heard yelling at the managers from her office. She constricts their roles and in turn yells at them for not doing their job. She is efficient in taking managers into her office after their vacation and tearing a strip off of them. It has become predictable. Budget time is yet another example when her tantrums are directed to management. Everyone in that wing can hear her yelling including residents and families. The negative impact can only be imaginable for those who are exposed to this behaviour. The behaviour of yelling isn’t effective to prove a point or address an issue. It is however, demeaning, unprofessional, intimidating and inexcusable. Managers in particular fear that they will be fired at budget time. The budget is a time of crisis for her because she waits until the last minute, is unable to figure out simple formulas and then yells at the managers because the numbers do not add up. Errors were found in last years report but again, no evaluation done and it appears that city administration is satisfied with what is presented to them by her. So much for transparency.
Sticking to a strict budget means that resident’s food isn’t optimal. Fruit juices made from powder which tastes and looks funny, desserts that are bought, canned food etc. Many of these complaints have been brought to her attention in which her response is that she will look into it, yet there has been nothing done to modify or enhance the food at the lodge. The ideation of buying prepared and often processed food to fit a budget doesn’t work. Could a few dollars from their rent go to a food fund rather than rely on what the government allows per day. Certain corners should never be cut. To see the waste of food is upsetting and surely other areas could be explored to have better food at a cheaper cost with less waste. Contracts which are signed that force commitment to the supplier is neither practical or in the best interest of anyone but especially to residents who are paying @ 2,000 a month.
Many things are compromised at the resident’s expense, including linen. A chronic problem for years. Suggestions were made but still, linen is consistently in short supply. Staff having to use one hand towel to wash and dry. Staff have had to use paper towels to wash residents. She blames the staff for throwing towels away to justify the strict quota and has had managers rummage through human waste garbage to look for lost linen. How degrading is that? A few towels were found in this process of rummaging however, staff were blamed for it while other reasons which were more likely to have occurred were ignored. Other facilities do not have this issue.
The same thing can be said regarding briefs. Staff are directed to change a brief when it is 80% wet. 80% wet can mean that someone is sitting in 50% of urine all day. Staff have also been directed to reuse a clean brief after their baths. Another strict quota at the expense of the resident. Nursing supplies are often short. The supply/demand ratio for items isn’t evaluated and messages for needed items are ongoing and again residents are having to wait for catheters, needles, dressing supplies, barrier cream etc. on a consistent basis. The practice of strict control to maintain a budget shows the effect it has on every department and resident and is counter productive as much wasted time is spent looking for items and improvising with what is available.
Another demoralizing tactic is the progressive discipline plan related to sick time. Staff are called in if they are absent for more than 4 days in a year. A very negative approach. June Alguire was more worried about coming to work than dying. She died two weeks after her last shift. Even while Mrs. Alguire was getting her test results of her terminal illness, she feared the consequences of calling in sick. This fear isn’t isolated but is a response to the oppression and fear that was not only felt by her, but by many at the lodge including residents and families. It did not help matters that Mrs. Durouchie called staff members in re: their sick time a week after her death. She wouldn’t even lower the flag when asked by staff. With the recent loss of Mr. Guindon, the fire department lowered their flags out of respect. Mrs. Derouchie refused to lower theirs because it was a Canadian flag. It took a third party to initiate the lowering of the flag and this is yet another example in which she cannot make a decision on principal and shows again the lack of respect which is displayed among the workers at the lodge. At her last staff meeting, staff were told that they would have to bring in a doctor’s note when they call in sick even if it is for one day. Mrs. Derouchie is unable to discriminate those who abuse their sick time compared to those who don’t. Placing everyone in one basket is yet another example of someone who cannot decipher common sense, shows that one vision exists and proves once again the all or nothing attitude has no place when working with the public.
Taking policies and procedures to the extreme is common but unrealistic as flexibility isn’t usually an option. Staff are consistently denied their vacations, switches etc. Flexibility is scarce and those who are granted any flexibility is one of bias. As previously mentioned, staff are reluctant to approach her as her mood is one that can be described as unpredictable. Staff who have other jobs say that their schedules are not honoured and they are denied switches if they are double booked, even if a replacement has been found. Schedules are always late and will be put out days before the next schedule is to start. This affects many who have two jobs. They are unable to do extra shifts because their other place of employment have already put out their schedules. This limits their availability as they are no longer available to work extra shifts and vacations are being denied as a result. The Christmas schedule did not come out until Dec. 20th last year. Staff are still waiting for this years schedule and they cannot plan for anything with their families or other place of employment. Other places despite staff shortages have managed it by adding that the schedule is tentative. Mrs. Derouchie consistently ignores any suggestions made from staff and/or DON which includes improving the once #1 facility.
The new DON has expressed ongoing concerns as well. He was ready to quit a month after being hired stating that he did not support her management style. He expressed his concerns saying that he has always worked with people as a group, where ideas were discussed and encouraged and decisions were made as a whole. It is impossible to initiate this same respect/model when only one person exists within a group. Managers including previous DON’s explain how difficult it is to address internal concerns because Mrs. Derouchie’s “to do” list has to take priority and can consume much of the day. They then get yelled at for not meeting their job requirements. This has been very consistent with all the DON’s and managers. The DON is having to support families after they have left her office. She has been referenced as a micromanager as well as autocratic. Two powerful adjectives to describe her style in which again, no follow up to the public’s concerns have been initiated.
Meetings have become a dictatorship where things are not discussed but implemented. Staff meetings have become a platform for her threats. The “YOU” “YOU” tactic of addressing concerns washes any responsibility from her and again blames the worker for why the facility is running inefficiently, is disorganized and why problems continue. To compare sick time to virtual positions is another way at blaming staff for being sick and making them responsible as to why additional hours are not given to the floors that need it due to sick time expenses.
When asked for extra help related to change in acuity, it is not granted therefore affecting the residents and staff as they are unable to meet the demands of the floor. To hear her say that staff are “whiners,” “ idiots” and “ninnies” etc. is unacceptable. When the acuity has changed and extra help was asked, an analysis of the floor was made by the DON and reported to Mrs. Derouchie. Her response was: “They’ve lost a few and will lose a few more. They always have time to complain.” Again, these genuine concerns are not complaints, they are valid to better a resident’s entitlement for the best care, especially when they are dying. No compassion or sympathy shown, but an insensitivity to the needs of residents and staff which increases stress and decreases morale.
The pharmacy is yet another example of poor judgment. The fact that her plan to get Classic Care has been on her agenda since her arrival raises even more questions. An evaluation process related to their suitability only took place at her level as no one in the facility knew or were consulted. Awareness only came after the contract was signed. No follow up has been done to see if the residents are in fact getting the best and they in fact are not. Counsel are not familiar with the standards nor are they familiar with the process. A true advantage from someone in her position. Did you know that residents are doing without medications during the weekend? The “satellite pharmacy” is unable to meet the requests given by registered staff during the weekend. They either don’t have the medication on hand or they don’t deliver the request. This happens often. Classic Care send too many narcotics (in the hundreds) at one time and nurses are having to count which is a waste of time and money and increases the chances of error. Nurses express that they are bombarded with frequent phone calls from the pharmacy and faxes received by them need to be addressed immediately or the resident does without until it is corrected. Small things like a date, or an added signature will prevent an order from being filled. There is no flexibility unless it suits their needs. The practice of borrowing medication from other residents including narcotics has become far too common rather than exception. The pharmacy has directed to borrow the medication as they are unable to accommodate the need. This is a big “NO NO” from the ministry and violates the rules. Resident’s are given many pills for a dosage that can be given as one, placing them at risk for choking and increasing non-compliance. Errors continue to be made at every level. Families continue to complain and are dissatisfied with this pharmacy. Staff struggle to get the orders out on time so that residents don’t do without for an extra day. Medications come later in the evening and residents have to be woken up to take. An overview to their suitability in meeting the needs of the residents is one of priority.
The infection control/staff development and health and safety person is overwhelmed with her numerous roles. In-services, when scheduled, are short notice with no coverage on the floors so that staff cannot attend. Staff are not properly trained re: paper work or new programs and or new procedures. The zero tolerance threat in not adhering to policies and procedures is repeated at every staff meeting. The policies are implemented to satisfy the standards but are not properly introduced leaving many staff unaware or unsure of how or why a policy/procedure exists. MDS is still a problem and staff have not been properly or thoroughly trained nor has there been a continuation of education. Staff are still behind in doing their assessments since it started almost two years ago. This added workload isn’t effective or fair as the dispersion of tasks are limited and nurses constantly struggle to get it done. To say that the lodge will be fined if the requirements of MDS is not met, again focuses the blame on overworked staff and adds pressure to get it done. Again, suggestions have been made because it is clear that their method is not working and the promise that more training will be provided hasn’t happened. The TAR sheets were introduced the same day they were implemented with a very quick two minute review to the staff working that day. No further training was given. The “train the trainer” is ineffective because there is little if any follow-up. SOAPIE charting is yet another area of concern which has been brought up over and over again with the reassurance that a new format will be implemented but again nothing has been done. Two years of addressing the same concerns with no action. One just has to look at her office to see the disorganization that staff are subjected to.
Resident council also feel that they do not have a say. They have expressed that decisions are made then introduced at meetings after contracts have been signed leaving them with no say or input. They are referencing the pharmacy and the new parking lot among many other things.
It is expected that the city will follow-up and address these concerns. To avoid any conflicts of interest, one would hope that someone who is independent and impartial would investigate. A thorough investigation including interviewing ex-staff members (long term employees who left because they had had enough), staff, residents and families is your responsibility and to address these public concerns.
I remain anonymous as the system has already failed the residents but will continue to advocate for human decency and respect.
CC to all members of council.
Letter sent on December 13, and December 6th, 2010
It is illegal to take mail and despite their petty loophole around it, doesn’t make it right. I’ve always questioned why council didn’t push further and use their authority to clean house when a strong opportunity was present? Perhaps it had a lot to do with the weak investigation? This would have saved at least one terms tax increase alone. Hopefully people will see the consequences of electing officials who are obtuse and in no way qualified to run for public office.
In 2010, I exposed the severe shortcomings at the GSDL, which included the practice of reapplying dirty briefs that were not “80% wet” and facecloths/towels that were not available forcing staff to use paper towels. This wasn’t enough to bring an uproar within city council of 2008-2012. It wasn’t enough that we were not meeting ministry standards. It wasn’t enough that we were violating basics in infection control. It wasn’t enough that morale was at its lowest. At what point “IS IT ENOUGH!?” for someone on council to say, “Hey, this isn’t right?” The same manager that set a precedent of violating ministry rules (failing to report resident abuse) one year earlier wasn’t enough! It took an additional 7 months and a tax funded payout before Donna Derouchie left. Wow!!! Francis (Lefebvre) Lauzon (former administrator) would have never let this happen.
I agreed to meet Bernadette Clement in January, 2011 at her legal clinic office to discuss the letter as I was still anonymous.
From: Bernadette Clement <BClement@cornwall.ca>
Sent: January 5, 2011 2:58 AM
Hello Ms. Johnston,
I want to first thank you for the clear and respectful manner in which you spoke to me today.
We established that you were meeting with me as a City Councillor and not as a lawyer and that I was not providing you with any legal advice.
As I said to you during our conversation, I will respect that you do not want your name to be divulged in regards to the letter you provided to the Mayor, C.A.O., and Council. If people come to know of your identity, it will not be from me.
However, you have given me permission to speak to Councillor Elaine MacDonald about our conversation. I intend to do so tomorrow afternoon and so if you no longer feel comfortable with my speaking to her, please let me know before that time.
As you know, Councillor MacDonald has also been assigned to the Management Board of Glen Stor Dun Lodge. I will tell her that we met and had a conversation about your letter and it will then be up to her to decide what she wants to do with that information. If you would prefer that I speak of our conversation without revealing your name, please let me know.
As a member of the Management Board, I have a responsibility to listen and to ask the right questions, so that we can all ensure that Glen Stor Dun Lodge provides the best services to a deserving community. I thank you for communicating with me and also thank Councillor Dupelle for assisting in this.
She was clear that she was meeting with me as a councillor and not a legal representative. Within the first five minutes of arrival, she asked me what kind of relationship I had with Donna Derouchie. I explained that we had ups and downs but the fact that resident’s didn’t have basics for care was the concern. As we started going through the concerns, she stopped to ask: what kind of “ups and downs” did Mrs. Derouchie and I have?
Again, I was clear that although we didn’t agree, especially when it came to lack of supplies, didn’t mean that the concerns weren’t valid. Within the hour, and using her manipulative questioning tactics, she asked again if I was angry or upset with Mrs. Derouchie.
Ugh!! At this point, I felt like I was on trial and became very uncomfortable. Right up until I walked out her office door, she asked one more time if I was “sure” I wasn’t upset with Mrs. Derouchie. I explained again that my feelings regarding Mrs. Derouchie had nothing to do with the fact that she wasn’t doing her job. Funny how she didn’t ask repeated questions regarding the many other complaints.
What is upsetting about this meeting is that I was completely unaware of Diane Shay being a whistleblower against the same manager a year earlier, but Ms. Clement knew.
To add to insult, she sat on GSDL Management Board which is supposed to provide oversight!
Despite the investigators investigating, I was never interviewed. So much for fairness and transparency! It is sad to think that the drama between Donna Derouchie and Paul Fitzpatrick took priority with their hush hush shenanigans at the expense of everyone else. Sickening!!
For those on council who thought they fought hard enough to make things right, Diane Shay, Rob Hickley, myself and the taxpayer are examples that you didn’t and this is why you will not have my vote for the Mayor’s seat along with many repeated offenders on council.
Leslie O’Shaughnessy was my little glimmer of hope that finally, some action would be taken to protect the whistleblower in turn protecting the public. His platform four years ago was fuelled with passion and desire regarding transparency, accountability and whistleblower protection.
The drama exposing his displeasure with council and the mayor was nothing more than a self indulgent plea to get elected at the expense of the whistleblower.
It’s time for accountability and transparency….for real this time which can only be accomplished without people like you. One thing that you did make clear is that you have discouraged anyone to come forward and that has huge consequences on public safety.
Elizabeth Wettlaufer, the nurse who killed her patients is a great example of a broken system and this is the worry I have when people are not held accountable. Buyouts and gag orders do not fix problems.
The lack of leadership and integrity says it all!