A coroner’s investigation has determined there was no requirement for staff at a Summerland care home to check on the well-being of a resident who fell ill with salmonella poisoning and later died.
The probe into the December 2012 death of Alfredo Bonaldi, 91, found the man died as a result of fluid in his lungs and multiple organ failure, both due to salmonella. A report released Thursday does not mention the suspected source of the infection, nor does it make any recommendations.
Bonaldi resided at Summerland Seniors Village as an independent living client and received no supervision or assistance from staff there, although he did eat lunches and suppers that were supplied in the home’s dining area, according to the report.
On Nov. 21, he ate dinner at the facility with his family and appeared well. For the next two days, Bonaldi “did not attend the dining room, contrary to his usual practice, for lunch or dinner,” the report said, although he was seen within the home by staff who told investigators the man gave no indication of illness.
On Nov. 24, he was not seen at any meals or within the residence. When a family member went to check on him the following day, he was found lying on his bed and it became “immediately apparent he was extremely unwell,” the report said.
Bonaldi was then transported by ambulance to Penticton Regional Hospital, where he was diagnosed with salmonella poisoning, and, despite “aggressive treatment,” died on Dec. 7.
The coroner noted that salmonella infections have an incubation period of 12 to 72 hours, after which symptoms occur.
Soon after Bonaldi went to hospital, Summerland Seniors Village came under fire from the victim’s family, who claimed he hadn’t been seen at the facility for several days prior to being found in his room and that staff had a duty to check on him sooner.
However, the coroner contradicted those assertions.
The report noted that because of Bonaldi’s “status as an independent living resident, there was no requirement for staff to check on (his) well-being.
“Despite this, there was a belief that when a resident’s usual routine changed with no apparent forewarning, staff should confirm with the resident or their family that there is no reason for concern.”
It’s noted the facility has since established a new policy that requires staff to check in on residents who miss a single meal.
In the wake of Bonaldi’s death, Interior Health blocked new admissions to the privately run home and installed two of its own staffers to oversee the operation. The ban on new residents was lifted earlier this month and one of the watchdogs removed, although weekly licensing inspections continue.