October 24, 2020

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Winnipeg Free Press



'Help me, I don't want to die like the others'

Care home residents scared after fourth person dies of COVID-19

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Residents at Parkview Place and their loved ones are raising concerns over care and communication as a deadly COVID-19 outbreak continues to grow and the province announced the death of a fourth resident Wednesday.

The province said a woman in her 90s who lived at Parkview Place Long Term Care Home in downtown Winnipeg died after being diagnosed with COVID-19. The 277-bed home has recorded four fatalities, tied with Bethesda Place Personal Care Home in Steinbach.

While the facility has put outbreak protocols into place to slow the spread of COVID-19, those who live there are fearful, isolated and receiving substandard care, said one resident.

Signs on door of Parkview Place Care Centre.


Signs on door of Parkview Place Care Centre.

"Everybody is fed up with this place," said the resident, whom the Free Press is not naming to maintain his privacy. "I want to be out of here before the snow flies." He's lived at the home for about four months and requires support after suffering two strokes.

Residents are told about new cases in the building on a "need to know" basis, he said, and he’s been kept in the dark about which floors are affected. Regular check-ins by staff have diminished, he's missed meals, and he said his first bath in three weeks came just days ago.

"This place is not run like a health-care facility. It’s a joke, is what it is. Nobody gives two hoots about anything," he said. "The living conditions here are sickening.

Since mid-September, when the outbreak was declared at the home, 24 residents have tested positive, five have recovered and four died, including two women in their 80s and 90s, and a man in his 70s. Ten staff members have tested positive.

On Wednesday, Manitoba reported two other deaths, marking the deadliest day for the province since the novel coronavirus pandemic began in March. A man in his 60s from Stonewall, who was connected to a communal living community, and a man in his 70s from Winnipeg also died from the disease. Twenty-seven Manitobans have died from COVID-19 since March.

Public health officials reported 32 new cases of COVID-19 and a five-day test positivity rate of 2.4 per cent on Wednesday. Twenty-five people were in hospital, including six in intensive care, and the province’s active caseload was 803.

Twenty-five active COVID-19 cases are connected to Parkview Place, according to Revera Inc. spokesman Larry Roberts. The Ontario-based for-profit long-term care home operator runs seven long-term care homes in the city.

A family member who has power of attorney for a resident at Parkview Place said getting information about the condition and care of her loved one is becoming impossible.

"I think there should be intervention," she said. "Everything seems to be really hush hush."

The woman, who asked the Free Press to keep her name private, said she only learned her loved one was being tested for COVID-19 after receiving a text message from him. When she tried to confirm the information with management, it took hours to be told that someone else on his floor had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and the results would only be shared with her if the test came back positive.

Manitoba’s latest COVID-19 death was a resident of Parkview Place Care Centre in Winnipeg.


Manitoba’s latest COVID-19 death was a resident of Parkview Place Care Centre in Winnipeg.

"It is impossible to talk to a nurse or anyone," the woman said. "I know my loved one doesn’t get any help with anything. He needs prompting and then he can do it himself, but he’s been very frustrated with nobody being around and always told to go to his room," she said.

"It’s terrible. Nobody should be treated like that."

She said she is considering moving him out, if she can secure home care, and wants the provincial government to take a look at what’s happening at the facility in the meantime.

"We’re doing more to manage his care than they are," she said. "His words to me last night were, ‘Help me, I don’t want to die like the others.’ And it’s heartbreaking."

Outbreak protocols provided by public health are being strictly followed, Roberts said, and the management at Parkview Place are in daily contact with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. Residents are isolated in their rooms and those who have tested positive are cohorted on two floors, Roberts said. Staff who work on affected wings are kept out of other parts of the building as much as possible, he said.

He said where staff members are off sick, positions have been filled by casual staff from agencies or full-time staff are offered overtime.

"It’s always challenging, but we’re managing," he said.

Communication with families is also being supported through automated calls and twice weekly emails, he noted.

"We offer our condolences to the family and friends of the person who passed away with COVID-19," he said. "The team at Parkview Place is working very hard to keep the residents and themselves safe and to prevent the spread of this very serious virus."

Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson said the union has been lobbying the province and Shared Health to get more staff at the facility since mid-September.

"(Nurses') level of concern has increased and we’re in contact with those members all the time and have been lobbying with the government and Shared Health to please intervene, because the nurses are saying we need help," Jackson said. "This is an excellent time for the province to step in and assist if at all possible."

In a statement, a provincial government spokesperson said facilities are responsible for following directions from public health and implementing outbreak measures as directed.

"Regular monitoring occurs, and regional staff work directly with each facility to ensure consistency in applying outbreak measures and in monitoring case and contact investigations," the statement said.

"Our medical leadership and staff, both from public health and from the regional long-term-care program, take very seriously the health and security of personal care home residents, as they do the health and security of all Winnipeggers and Manitobans, and if necessary would act to promptly address any concerns."

In a statement, a spokesperson for Health Minister Cameron Friesen, said the government takes the concerns seriously.


Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.

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