Pinecrest Nursing Home: COVID death docs reveal new questions

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Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont. — the first long-term care home in the province to be hit with an outbreak of COVID-19 back on Friday, March 20, 2020 — was described as a “war zone” during this time.

Back in the fall of 2020, I had been tipped off that there was an outrageous amount of nursing home deaths with questionable causes. I tried to piece together what exactly happened in those cases, during the two and a half weeks that 29 of Pinecrest’s 65 residents died. I wondered: did they actually test positive for COVID-19?

The Globe and Mail reported on March 30, 2020 that “[o]nly three residents of Pinecrest were tested for COVID-19 because of a provincial policy — usually applied in flu outbreaks — that once the virus at the root of an outbreak has been identified, everyone who is symptomatic is presumed to have it.”

Between the COVID-19 outbreak and staff not showing up for their shifts, is it any wonder that Pinecrest residents continued to die every day until April 9, with seven deaths over one weekend alone?

I reached out to Pinecrest seeking clarification on ages and causes of death of those deceased during this time period of March 24 to April 9, 2020, when the outbreak suddenly ended.

Administrator Janelle Whalen responded:

During the outbreak at Pinecrest Nursing Home, our leadership team had daily conversations with Public Health, the Ministries of Health and of Long-Term Care and other health system partners. They received infection prevention and control support from Ross Memorial hospital.

I wanted to know what that communication entailed.

So we filed a Freedom of Information request with the Ministries Of Health and Long-Term Care requesting all of that communication.

After months of filibustering and clarifications, we finally received a response.

The government informed us “that no responsive records were located. A reasonable search of the Long-Term Care Operations Division was conducted, and no responsive records were found. Sheila Bristol, Assistant Deputy Minister, Long-Term Care Operations Division is responsible for this decision.

“The ministry conducted a search for a contracted agency at Pinecrest Nursing Home, no responsive records were identified. Additionally, the ministry has no records pertaining to any communication with the local public health unit; staffing; and information on causes of death of those who died. The ministry recommends that the requester reach out directly to the Pinecrest Nursing Home for staffing information.”

But how can that be? Janelle Whalen from Pinecrest told me communication happened daily. So we’re appealing Sheila Bristol’s decision.

After all, the Canadian military’s report confirms that many long-term care residents died from neglect, not COVID-19, in Ontario homes.

Could this be what happened at Pinecrest?

Support our journalistic efforts to get to the bottom of this, and many other stories, at

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