Seniors home shut down in Stewiacke will not reopen, says owner

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STEWIACKE - A senior's home that was shut down this week because of safety concerns has been closed for good, its owner says.

Marilyn's Country Haven home for seniors, located just outside Stewiacke, was shut down this week by the Nova Scotia Fire Marshal's office after "life and safety" deficinies were discovered. The home's owner says it will not be reopened.

"I have no plans to reopen," said Marilyn Fisher of Marilyn's Country Haven, a home for seniors and respite care facility located just outside Stewiacke on Alton Road.

"I just think everything they did is silly and they stretched the truth and everything else," Fisher said of this week's decision by the Nova Scotia Fire Marshal's office to evacuate the facility.

"I'm just tired of it all and I'm tired of the calls and I just need time to breathe," she said.

Officials from the health and wellness department and the deputy fire marshal, accompanied by RCMP officers, conducted an unannounced inspection of the facility on Wednesday, which resulted in the evacuation of the six elderly residents who lived there.

"We are no longer a seniors home," Fisher said. "I just stepped aside and let them do whatever they wanted. I didn't have much of a choice."

The home has been in operation for 14 years.

Chrissy Matheson, a spokesperson for the department of labour and advanced education, said the fire marshal's office conducted the inspection after it received a complaint from the RCMP.

That inspection resulted in "significant fire and life-safety deficiencies" being discovered, she said.

Matheson said the deputy fire marshal involved said in his report that had a fire broke out at the home, there could have been "severe injury or ultimate death" because of the lack of safety precautions.

Information emailed to the Truro Daily News from Fire Marshal Harold Pothier cited the following deficiencies found at the residence.

- No fire or evacuation plan in place.

- Staff were not trained on how to evacuate residents in the case of a fire.

- The locks were located on the outside of the doors, meaning that residents could intentionally or accidentally be locked in their rooms.

- There was a gate at the top of the stairs that required a key for proper exit.

- An additional exit was required on the second floor in order for residents to evacuate in a safe and timely manner.

And further, Pothier said, the home did not have an occupancy permit as a seniors' care facility.

"As a result, an order to vacate was issued and the facility was closed and the residents re-located."

Fisher acknowledged that she did not have an occupancy permit, but said that is because the government does not licence such small, private facilities.

Matheson said that while the Fire Marshal's office will sometimes provide time to correct a situation where minor deficiencies are found, in this case, where such "massive" violations to the fire code were discovered, authorities had no choice but to act immediately.

Pothier agreed.

"In this case, the office of the Fire Marshal decided that the best action was to close the facility until the fire and life-safety deficiencies are addressed," he said.

"We understand that requiring residents to re-locate from their homes can be stressful, however, the most important thing is to make sure they are safe. We worked closely with the department of health to ensure the residents and their families endured minimal discomfort and inconvenience (during the relocation process)."

Twitter: @tdnharry


Organizations: RCMP, Nova Scotia Fire Marshal, Truro Daily News

Geographic location: Stewiacke, Country Haven, Alton Road

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