A Surrey senior’s home where an 80-year-old woman contracted E. coli linked to a meal and later died, was found in violation of a number of food-preparation standards weeks before the victim and two other seniors fell ill.
Madeline Jonah was one of three seniors hospitalized due to E. coli after eating a meal at Kiwanis Park Place in mid-November 2011. She was admitted to Peace Arch Hospital suffering from bloody diarrhea, according to medical records.
She died in Royal Columbian Hospital on Nov. 30. The two other victims recovered.
Langley woman Kathy Jonah says she has been tormented by a lack of answers and empathy from officials after her mother died.
“I just want someone to be accountable,” Kathy Jonah said. “The management [at Kiwanis Park Place] hasn’t called me back, and they haven’t offered me an apology or anything. It’s like a slap in the face.”
Kiwanis Park Place, a subsidized independent-living complex operated by Crescent Housing Society, offers food services under the licensing of Fraser Health Authority.
An investigation by the authority determined that the three seniors were likely infected with E. coli because of the facility’s food preparation, inadequate cooking or improper cleaning of food surfaces.
Fraser Health spokesman Roy Thorpe-Dorward said Crescent Housing Society voluntarily ended its food-services program, so there will be no further probes into the outbreak. The facility had no previous E. coli issues, Thorpe-Dorward said.
However, an examination of inspection records shows that on Oct. 31, 2011, the facility was cited with three “non-critical” violations; “food premises not maintained in a sanitary condition; frozen potentially hazardous food stored above -18 °C.; premises not free of pests.
In April 2011, the facility was also cited with three “non-critical” violations; food premises not maintained in a sanitary condition; equipment/utensils/food contact surfaces not in good working order; refrigeration units and hot holding equipment lack accurate thermometers.
The facility was given a “low” hazard rating in both cases.
In April 2010, the facility was found to have pests. In October 2009, two “non-critical” violations included failure to hold a valid food-services permit and food premises not maintained in a sanitary condition.
Jonah said that because of B.C.’s wrongful-death laws she has no way to hold anyone accountable.
Ben Doyle of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. says family members can’t effectively sue for damages in the deaths of children, seniors and the disabled, because the law only accounts for damages for loss of income support.
“We have legislation that makes children, seniors and people with disabilities worthless,” he said. “We’re pushing for legislation that respects the lives of all individuals and not just breadwinners.”
Officials with Crescent Housing Society did not answer interview requests on Monday.