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Ken Foster suffered from dementia and was failing in recent months, however, his death last week — attributed to COVID-19 — was still a colossal blow to family members.

The 79-year-old former trucker died early Thursday with only his daughter, Sharona, by his bedside. For the last four years, he'd lived at Holy Family Home, a North End personal care home that has one of the largest outbreaks in the city.

Holy Family, located on Aberdeen Avenue, is among 28 of Winnipeg's 39 long-term care facilities enduring an active COVID-19 outbreak.

"He was in a wheelchair and had problems. It's never easy when the time comes," said Ken's son, Brad Foster. "He was tested four days before and they didn't think he'd make it the first night. He started to pick up a little Wednesday but he passed away (the next morning). Everything just started shutting down."

On Tuesday, provincial health officials announced 16 additional people had died from the virus. Eight of those were connected to outbreaks at personal care homes in Winnipeg and elsewhere across the province.

Ten residents of Holy Family have died since March. Eighty-four cases remain active.

Brad Foster had nothing but complimentary things to say about the centre.

"I was impressed with the place. They were very caring. Anything that happened with him, it was brought to our attention right away," he said, noting his sister was the family's designated caregiver.

"(Sharona) was with him, so that was good. He didn't go by himself. That's a regret, one of things that bothered me, that I really couldn't really see him. We had our last outside visitation at the end of September, and just a few phone calls since."

As of Tuesday, the virus had killed 168 Manitobans who lived in personal care homes and assisted-living facilities.

Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home, Charleswood Care Centre, Fred Douglas Lodge, Golden Links Lodge, Maples, Oakview Place, Park Manor, Simkin Centre and St. Norbert are battling large-scale outbreaks.

The WRHA is conducting a region-wide staffing review to ensure the level of care is being achieved. In the past three weeks, more than 150 home-care staff employed by the province have filled shifts at personal care homes. They have either volunteered or have been reassigned.

In addition, 23 graduates of Red River College's new health-care aide program will be available to start as early as Dec. 7.

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

   Read full biography