Candles, feathers, a photo and an urn pay tribute to Zach Plett at his mom’s home in South Surrey. (File photo)

South Surrey mom optimistic changes ahead for recovery homes

Maggie Plett met with Min. Judy Darcy Thursday

The mother of a young man who died of an overdose last December in a Surrey recovery house says a meeting Thursday with the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions brought back “a lot of bad memories.”

But Maggie Plett said the chat with Min. Judy Darcy also left her somewhat optimistic.

“I felt that I got somewhere,” Plett told Peace Arch News after the meeting.

“I feel like there’s going to be some changes made.”

Plett, who lives in South Surrey, began calling for change to recovery-house regulation and oversight in May, after receiving a toxicology report that confirmed her son Zach had died of a fentanyl overdose.

Zach, 21, was found face-down in a bed – which his mom saw later the same day was fitted with mouldy sheets – at a North Surrey facility at around 4 p.m. on Dec. 15. His actual time of death was later pinpointed by the coroner at between 9 a.m. and noon.

READ MORE: Grieving mom says son who died in Surrey recovery house ‘would’ve been better off homeless’

READ MORE: Fatal overdose in Surrey recovery home has ‘got the attention’ of minister

The facility – one of five sites operating under the same name – is both licensed by the City of Surrey and registered with the provincial Assisted Living Registry.

Plett has said from her first contact with PAN that she doesn’t understand how the facility could possibly meet municipal and provincial standards for supporting people with addictions, and, that she wants to see it shut down.

“I wouldn’t let a dead animal rot in that place,” she told PAN in an initial interview in May.

Later that month, Darcy told Global News that her ministry is “finalizing regulation and enforcement for recovery homes,” and that those regulations will be in place “by the end of the year.”

Plett said she got a sense during Thursday’s meeting that efforts are underway to shut down the home where Zach died.

As for the new rules, she was told they will include a list of 25 incidents that recovery-house operators must report immediately.

“(Darcy) said there’s rules in place now that aren’t being followed,” Plett said.

“These new rules are going to be a lot more strict and regulated. More inspections and things like that.”

According to the ALR website, operators must report serious incidents within 24 hours.

The registry’s ‘serious incident report’ form – which must be submitted “no later than the next business day” after an incident – currently lists attempted suicides, unexpected death, abuse or neglect, medication errors, fire or flood, missing persons, police calls, falls resulting in hospitalization and disease outbreaks.

Plett said Darcy spent more than an hour with her and the parents of another young man who died on Dec. 24, nine days after Zach, in one of the four other recovery homes that run under the same name.

Plett said she is “absolutely glad that I went,” but that she still has questions – including exactly when Zach’s death was reported by the operator, what happened to the money she paid for Zach’s initial acceptance into the home (which was paid to a different facility altogether), for how many days did the recovery home where he died receive the $30.90 per diem paid for Zach by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and why is the facility still allowed to operate.

She plans to keep asking until she gets answers, she said.

“I think everybody needs to know about this,” she said.

“I owe it to my son. Simple as that.”

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