WINNIPEG - Manitoba's Health Department says staff at a Winnipeg nursing home so thoroughly failed to treat an elderly woman who later died in hospital that their actions amounted to "physical abuse by neglect."
Officials are reviewing care at the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre, where Lillian Peck, 93, suffered as her skin became infected by her own feces and later ruptured.
"Documentation on basic nursing care, assessment and treatment, and examination of the wound itself was absent," Bernadette Preun, assistant deputy minister of health, wrote in a letter dated July 20 that was made public Monday.
"The evidence further showed staff were uncertain and lacked confidence in their knowledge of the wound and how to treat it."
Peck was at the home last October and was generally alert and in good spirits, according to her daughter Marsha Palansky.
Palansky said she visited frequently and ensured her mother had a companion that would walk her around several hours each week.
Neither realized Peck was suffering an infection in her pelvic area until her health deteriorated and she was transferred to a hospital. That's when Palansky was shown how the infection had affected her mother.
"The skin was black. At one point, one of the doctors thought she might have flesh-eating disease, that's how dark it was," Marsha Palansky said Monday.
"I literally broke down. I could not believe anybody could be in that condition."
Peck had not been washed after bowel movements, Palansky said. She died from heart and renal failure two days after being moved to the hospital.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has apologized to Peck's family and said it is reviewing standards at all nursing homes in its jurisdiction.
Seven nurses have been disciplined, including one who no longer works at the home, and the facility has implemented an improvement plan.
"It should not have happened," said Real Cloutier, the authority's chief operating officer.
"A big part of this was ... just not following the protocols in place."
Manitoba Health is also conducting a thorough review of the 200-bed nursing home, which bills itself on its website as "one of the most respected personal care homes in Winnipeg."
Palansky said she hopes no one else will go through what she has.
"I'm hoping that this home becomes a quality long-term care home," she said. "But I don't think a lot of education (of staff) has happened."