Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) is conducting an internal investigation in the wake of a leaky roof which forced a mass resident relocation from Highland Wood Long-Term Care Home.

HHHS president and chief executive officer Carolyn Plummer said in a Feb. 20 email the investigation is currently underway. It comes after 28 residents had to relocate in early February due to water leaking into the facility from snow and ice buildup on the roof.

Plummer said the roof was examined by experts in 2017 as part of the HHHS capital program, with a recommendation to replace it in the 2018-2021 timeframe. The roof was scheduled to be replaced this spring.

“We are currently conducting an internal investigation to determine if staff had documented any earlier report of leaks or challenges with the roof,” Plummer said.

A preliminary report from the organization’s insurer’s roof inspector said the early failure of the roof was sudden.

“The early failure of the Highland Wood roof occurred suddenly without warning. He has found no ongoing signs of water infiltration or roof leaks, no signs of early failure or ongoing water seepage below the roof deck,” Plummer said.

HHHS also held an information session for family members Feb. 20. The meeting was closed to media.

Alen Bangay’s wife was transferred. He attended the meeting and though he did not feel it offered much new information, it was important to focus on getting residents back.

“What we should be doing is focus on how fast we can get the work that has to be done completed to get the residents back in their home,” Bangay said.

He said the experience has been hard on his wife. Since relocating, he said she’s spent days at another facility in Haliburton, been moved to Minden, then Lindsay, then finally back to Haliburton at her family’s request when an availability opened.

“Part of it is she can’t hold in her memory new information,” Bangay said. “I think it (moving) set her back some. Whether she will recover from this back to where she was … that’s just a crapshoot.”

According to a question and answer session, family members will also be asked if their loved one wants to return to the County of Haliburton before Highland Wood reopens. The document also said HHHS has arranged free transportation and counselling services for all families should they request it.

Plummer said staff are working to keep the roof clear of further ice buildup. No timeline has been provided as to when residents might be able to return to the facility.

“Our goal is to move forward to complete the work to reopen Highland Wood and bring the residents back home,” she said.

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