Joann Kubas experienced what would best be described as tempered relief when the outbreak at Maples Personal Care Home was finally declared over by the province this week.
Her mother-in-law, Rose Kubas, 77, survived the scourge of COVID-19 that enveloped the facility on Mandalay Drive for more than three months.
She said by no means has the threat diminished because residents of the care home have yet to be vaccinated.
"I was happy to hear that in their eyes, it’s officially over. But I don’t really know if anything’s over until everybody’s immunized, do you know what I mean?" Joann Kubas said Wednesday. "Everyone there is vulnerable.
"Just as quickly as it got in there, that’s as quickly as it can return until they’re immunized. Let’s try and be positive and let’s hope for the best, but the fear is still there."
Rose Kubas managed to stay free of the virus, even though Maples was decimated after an outbreak was declared on Oct. 20. In all, 153 residents and 62 staff members tested positive for COVID-19, and 55 residents died.
She’s been isolated for months, including over the holiday season, and has rarely seen family beyond waving in a window, but was finally able to move around the care home a little more freely, as of Tuesday.
"It’s been very difficult, but at least they’re now out of their rooms. That’s a huge part of it because as much as we could say, ‘Hang in there, it’s just around the corner, things will get better,’ the days must have been very long for them," said Joann.
She said her family immediately took a proactive approach to her safety, even though the doors were locked to visitors for large blocks of time during the outbreak.
"As soon as it broke out, we didn’t just trust them with everything. We made a lot of the calls of what we felt were acceptable. For example, we said we didn’t want any activity staff going into her room and we wanted her isolated. She wasn’t going to die from being isolated. She was going to die if somebody brought in COVID," she said.
"Even to the point where we could have done Skype calls with her, we didn’t because we didn’t want them passing iPads from room to room. There were no guarantees. And what I questioned, and what I still question, as soon as big numbers of staff tested positive, and if they were wearing masks, how come so many staff got it?"
Joann doesn’t understand why a care home in which there was so much pain, suffering and loss wouldn’t be near the top of the vaccination list.
"We question their decision not to start with the homes that had these bad outbreaks. Now, the chance of it getting in is still there, and it puts the survivors at risk," she said. "They should have made the decision to go in and immunize the staff and people who live at these places who have been through a lot."
The outbreak at Parkview Place Long Term Care Home in downtown Winnipeg also ended Tuesday. Since mid-September, 165 people were infected there, including 120 residents. Twenty-nine residents died.
Both care homes are run by Ontario-based Revera Inc.
Questions emailed to Revera on Wednesday regarding the timing of vaccinations at its centres were not answered by late in the day.
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