The morning after using the hot tub at the Comfort Suites in Kelowna, Melissa Kennedy’s six-month old baby Jolene was covered in chemical burns.
It was a sleepless night for baby and mom, which was unusual for the happy-go-lucky Jolene, said Kennedy.
Only in the morning light did Kennedy discover both she and baby had a rash and the swimsuit she had worn appeared to be bleached.
“It was black going in to the hot tub,” she said.
Concerned, she made a complaint to the hotel, however, she claims the staff were extremely rude, refused to look at the rash or the swimsuit and declined to test the pool.
“I was sobbing and distraught when I left the hotel,” she said.
Kennedy filed a complaint with the hotel upon arriving home in Revelstoke and was assured, via email from the manager, that the hot tub is checked daily and that all mechanical systems were running as they should on Feb. 8.
“Sincerely although the pool/hot tub was booked completely, we had not received any other concerns-I am at a loss as to why your little girl was so itchy – I am so sorry,” Carla Carlson, manager of the hotel, wrote in an email.
Kennedy proceeded to report the incident to Interior Health.
On Feb. 12, health authority inspectors found that chlorine levels and recent records for the hot tub and pool were high due to a pool chemistry adjustment to meet other requirements.
“Chlorine levels have since been adjusted to correct elevated chlorine in the pool,” said Interior Health in an email. “Interior Health will follow up on inspection reports to ensure compliance has been achieved.”
Though Kennedy was partially refunded for her stay at the hotel and given points towards her next stay with the chain, she said compensation wasn’t the intention of her complaint.
“I would sooner donate the points. I was just worried about my baby and this happening to someone else.”
Kennedy said she talked to her family doctor upon returning home and he confirmed the rash looked like a chemical burn. However, now almost a week later, she said the swelling has gone down and Jolene is less uncomfortable.
In response to questions from the Review, Carlson, the manager at the hotel, said that they take all complaints and feedback from guests seriously and are taking appropriate steps to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.
“The health and safety of our guests is always top priority.”
BC Pool Regulations under the Public Health Act require that chlorine pool levels be monitored by the operator twice daily and that chlorine be maintained at a minimum concentration of one part per million.
Interior Health inspects pools annually and follows up on complaints from the public, however, it is each operators responsibility to ensure their pool is meeting the legislated requirements.
If you have concerns about a hotel or other public pool, contact the local health protection office. The closest to Revelstoke is in Salmon Arm and can be reached at 250-833-4117.
Kennedy, her daughter and son had travelled to Kelowna for cancer treatment for their dog, taking advantage of the private pool time they were offered.
Since the inspection by Interior Health, Kennedy said she has heard nothing further from the hotel.