CAMBRIDGE — A nursing home in Ottawa is home to a secret door that can only be opened by a specially trained employee who can be trusted to leave the home with a secret key.
An article on the website of the OtterBein Health Care Trust said the “secret door” opens when the “doctor is with the patient,” and the nurse’s office staff can only access it through an “authorized” key.
The article said that the nurse and the caretaker are allowed to enter the home without the patient’s consent and the “key is only passed from nurse to nurse, not from nurse’s assistant to assistant, or nurse to patient.”
But the “hidden” door is the only way to enter it.
A letter sent to staff at the Otters home on Tuesday said the door “has been designed with a security feature, so no one is able to walk through it without the knowledge of the caregiver, nurse, or other staff.”
The letter said the key is “exclusively for the staff who have access to the nursing home and is not for use by any other staff members.”
The trust’s website says that in order to access the “authorized staff” program, the nurse must have a valid security clearance and be able to show “good cause” for not allowing the staff to enter.
The trust said that it had “never experienced a situation where staff did not have the ability to enter without the permission of the resident” and that “we were never notified of a situation in which someone did not get a key.”
The Otters’ letter to staff on Tuesday says that staff were “aware” of the “security measures” at the nursing homes and had not heard of any staff members being allowed to open the door.
In its letter, the trust said it had also “completed a review of all of the care of the residents” to ensure that it was “operational, safe, and appropriate.”
The nursing home was recently cited for “failure to maintain the required standards of care” in the last report, the Ontario Human Rights Commission found.
The commission noted that “a number of resident complaints” had been made about the nursing facility and that staff members were “not aware of any resident’s rights to enter or leave the facility without the consent of a resident.”
The CBC has reached out to the Otts for comment.