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Villa Leonardo Gambin Doctor Removed Vaccines For Personal Use, Union Alleges

A nurse was also asked to vaccinate “family members and friends of several managers,” the union says.

A nurse at a Woodbridge, Ont. nursing home gave COVID-19 vaccinations to a member of the facility’s board of directors and “family members and friends of several managers,” a letter sent Friday by her union to Ontario’s Ministry of Health alleges.

The union also says the nurse reported that a doctor at Villa Leonardo Gambin (VLG) “removed some doses of the vaccine for what appeared to be his personal use,” the letter says.

Shane Martinez, the deputy director of the legal department at Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 3000, wrote the letter about the vaccinations, which he said took place the week of Jan. 10.

The name of the nurse who administered the vaccines was redacted from a copy of the letter obtained by HuffPost Canada.

The union representing a nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin in Vaughan, Ont. says a doctor removed vaccine doses for 'personal use' and other doses were given to a board member as well as family and friends of management.
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The union representing a nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin in Vaughan, Ont. says a doctor removed vaccine doses for 'personal use' and other doses were given to a board member as well as family and friends of management.

The nurse told the union she was told to falsely categorize the board member and managers’ family and friends as “essential caregivers” to residents.

“Ms. REDACTED was also invited to have her son and husband attend the clinic and receive the vaccine. She declined that invitation,” the letter says.

In a statement, the chair of the home’s board of directors confirmed that vaccines were given to people who do not work or live at the home.

“As a result of the six hour shelf life of this vaccine, we faced a few instances where approximately 21 unused vaccines were at risk of expiring. In an effort to prevent additional vaccines from going to waste, we offered them to non-frontline staff who work or volunteer for the residence, including myself,” Andrew Iacobelli said by email.

“In an effort to prevent additional vaccines from going to waste, we offered them to non-frontline staff who work or volunteer for the residence, including myself.”

- Andrew Iacobelli, Villa Leonardo Gambin board

“In these situations, where the window for using the doses started rapidly closing, we further extended the remaining unused vaccines to family members of staff and volunteer board members, instead of having them expire and disposing of them.”

He also said he takes the allegation that a doctor removed doses “very seriously” and would look into it.

The home is a non-profit, but it is operated by a private company called Sienna Senior Living. Sienna deferred to Iacobelli’s email when asked for comment.

HuffPost has also reviewed a redacted copy of a grievance LiUNA filed about the issue Thursday. It says the home violated the nurse’s safety by “allowing prohibited access to the facility to individuals in violation of appropriate orders.”

The home was in a COVID-19 outbreak — its fourth — at the time. During an outbreak, the only people who are allowed into a home are staff, volunteers, essential workers and one essential caregiver per resident, as per government guidelines.

‘Unforgivable’

“This is just unforgivable to me,” Charlene Nero, director of LiUNA Local 3000’s legal department, told HuffPost.

The home put the nurse’s credentials at risk by asking her to give out vaccines to ineligible people and falsely categorize them as caregivers, Nero said.

“These crazy variants are circulating that are extremely contagious. And at 7 or 8 o’clock at night, one of the managers just went to the front door and let in 10 of their friends and relatives,” she said. “These folks just kind of walked in the front door.”

“By virtue of being the relative of a manager at the Sienna-run home ... you could skip the queue.”

- Charlene Nero, LiUNA

Nero said the Ontario government and public health officials need to do a better job tracking what happens to leftover vaccines.

“There are women’s shelters and homeless services and hospices right down the road from VLG that are not scheduled to get the vaccine for ages,” she said. “But by virtue of being the relative of a manager at the Sienna-run home ... you could skip the queue and get to the front of the line.”

25 residents dead

Twenty-six residents have died and multiple staff members have been infected during the outbreaks at VLG. One personal support worker, Felicidad Maloles, got sick in April while working at the home. Her husband got sick, too, and died May 26.

York Region’s medical officer of health warned the home on Dec. 31, 2020 that the region knew the home had inadequate leadership and infection prevention and control policies. The home was ordered to comply with public health guidance, provide proper training, personal protective equipment (PPE), and adequate staff or face fines of $5,000 a day.

LiUNA entered arbitration with VLG Thursday over employees’ wide-ranging grievances, which Nero said relate to:

  • Improper training,
  • Rationing of PPE,
  • Employees not being paid when they took time off to self isolate after being exposed to the virus or showing symptoms, despite being promised their pay.
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