10/18/2013 07:21 EDT | Updated 12/18/2013 05:12 EST

Report says no evidence of mice biting at Lethbridge care home

An investigation has concluded there is no evidence that mice bit the face of a dementia patient at a seniors home in Lethbridge, Alta.

"No one witnessed a mouse biting or scratching [the patient], nor did anyone witness a mouse or any mouse droppings at any time on her face, head, body, bed linens or bed, or on any other resident," writes investigator Kathleen Cullen.

Cullen was contracted by Alberta Health following a claim in September by lobby group Friends of Medicare that a woman had been bitten, and that a former employee had reported problems with mice and bed bugs to the facility operator, Covenant Health.

According to the report, mice were found to have infested the nursing home on Sept. 1 and 2, but staff took steps to get rid of the mice and there was no evidence anyone was hurt as a result of the mice.

Covenant Health insisted Friday that the report shows that all its facilities meet standards of care, and that Friends of Medicare made a mistake.

"I point to the fact that the information from Friends of Medicare was misleading and was reckless and unsubstantiated," said Covenant Health CEO Patrick Dumelie.

"And in that regard, there was significant impact on our residents and families and staff as a result of that reckless behaviour."

Friends of Medicare snapped back at Dumelie's comment, insisting that bringing the existence of mice to the public's attention was responsible.

"I think it forces these facilities to have to deal with an inconvenient reality," Friends of Medicare executive director Sandra Azocar told CBC News.

Patient wounds given different explanation

The report says a female resident was found with "unexplained, new face and head wounds," but that a nurse assumed they were caused by mice.

The report says two doctors later examined the patient and found a different reason for the wounds, but their conclusions are blacked out for privacy reasons.

As for bed bugs, the investigation says the pests were found between March and September, and that at least three residents experienced itchiness. The report says the residents were treated and the bed bugs eradicated.

The investigation says St. Therese Villa has implemented an action plan to control bed bugs and other pests, as well as bumping up cleaning and nursing staff.

"[The report has] really validated what our internal review has told us, and tells us that we're meeting the quality care required for our residents," Dumelie said.

In a news release, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees called for standardized province-wide staff training and enhanced pest control in seniors facilities.