By Sue Tiffin
Published Feb. 14 2019
Recurring ice build-up that has led to several leaks in the roof at Highland Wood long-term care facility in Haliburton are being addressed by the Haliburton Highlands Health Services maintenance team so that further inspections can take place and the roof can be repaired allowing residents to move back in.
“The leaks have been extensive in multiple areas including hallways and resident rooms” said Carolyn Plummer HHHS president and CEO via email to the Times in response to questions on Feb. 7. “Our maintenance team has been working around the clock to divert water off the roof and to monitor leaks inside the building as the ice melts and as the rain falls.”
Evacuation of all 28 residents living in the long-term care facility began Feb. 6 initially with some residents being relocated to other parts of the building and to neighbouring long-term care facilities. By Feb. 7 after a detailed inspection of the roof all Highland Wood residents were being relocated to other facilities in the county and within the Central East Local Health Integration Network catchment area until further notice.
“During the time that we had to temporarily relocate some residents to other parts of the facility the residents and their families were very understanding as they recognized the challenging situation we were facing” Plummer told the Times. “It was very difficult when we had to make the decision to relocate residents to other facilities; it’s never easy to leave one’s home in a crisis situation and this was no different. Although everyone understands that the safety of our residents is our top priority and they understand why we needed to make this decision it was still difficult to leave familiar surroundings and the staff who know them so well.”
The 19-year-old roof was scheduled to be replaced this spring.
In a press release issued Feb. 11 Haliburton Highlands Health Services said hospital and long-term care home facilities including roofs were assessed by experts in 2017 as part of their capital program. It was recommended through the assessment that the roofs proactively be replaced before 2021. A tender to replace both Hyland Crest and Highland Wood roofs was issued in May 2018 and the tender awarded in July 2018.
“Based on the assessment Hyland Crest was scheduled first and that work was completed in September 2018” reads the press release. “Weather conditions prevented us from moving forward to replace the Highland Wood roof following the work at Hyland Crest and the work was then rescheduled for spring 2019.”
Highland Wood’s roof has reportedly been regularly inspected and monitored by the HHHS maintenance team however it showed signs of extensive leaking this year.
“Unfortunately the extreme fluctuations in temperature and weather conditions over the late fall and into the winter led to an excessive build-up of ice on the roof and then a sudden melt which led to the steps taken last week to safely evacuate and relocate residents to other facilities” reads the statement from HHHS. “The team is now actively working on removing the recurring ice build-up to support further inspections. We will then take the appropriate steps to ensure the situation is effectively addressed confirming a timeline for repairing the roof and reopening Highland Wood.”
HHHS will be setting up an information hot line within the coming days. Family members with questions regarding the placement of loved ones can call the Central East LHIN Long-Term Care Placement Team at 310-2222.