Manitoba families call for action on care home outbreaks amid their own personal grief
Published Thursday, November 12, 2020 8:27PM CST
Maples Personal Care Home.
WINNIPEG -- Five of the nine additional COVID-19 deaths reported by the province Thursday are linked to outbreaks at long term care homes run by Revera.
The for-profit company is under mounting pressure to get the situation under control, not only in Manitoba but in another province, too.
It has some families demanding action and accountability amid their own personal grief.
Eddie Calisto-Tavares became her dad Manuel’s caregiver at the end of October. The 88-year-old lived at Maples long term care home and tested positive for COVID-19.
“It’s what I needed to do for my dad,” said Calisto-Tavares. “He trusted me with a lot of his life.”
“My dad was a very strong, determined man. He came to this country at the age of 39. He came with six children and he made an incredible life for himself and his children.”
Manuel, who’s being remembered by his daughter as a passionate entrepreneur and a dedicated dad, died Wednesday.
“He was proud Portuguese, loved his soccer, loved gardening,” Calisto-Tavares said.
She and two of her brothers were granted permission to say their goodbyes in person.
“The three of us were in the room with him,” said Calisto-Tavares. “I had music playing in the background from the Rosary of Fatima which my dad grew up with.”
“At least we were there with him.”
With at least 26 deaths and nearly 200 total cases, Maples is the site of Manitoba’s largest personal care home outbreak, followed by Parkview Place. Both homes are run by Revera. The company also runs a care home with an active outbreak in Edmonton, where at least 10 people have died.
While there have been COVID-19 outbreaks at more than 30 Manitoba long term care homes, the ones at Revera have so far been the deadliest.
Larry Baillie’s dad, Glen Baillie, a former Toronto police officer and a big football fan lived in the Maples care home.
He died Wednesday in hospital.
“My dad hung on for three days and passed away just before the 11th hour of 11th month of the 11th day,” said Larry. “He served his community and worked in one of the toughest districts in Toronto.”
Larry wants to see more done to help the care home get the outbreak under control but he also wants answers and wonders if more could’ve been done to prevent his dad’s death.
“My biggest concern is a for-profit agency running a health care long term care facility,” said Larry. “They never answered the phones or they never returned the call.”
“I only know my father tested positive because after four days of him being tested I called and called and called and called and nobody answered. And I called every phone number in the nursing home only to be told, ‘I’m so sorry, your dad tested positive.’ I said, ‘I have some questions’ and they said I would get called back. That call back never ever happened.”
Baillie said when he called the home on the night of Oct.31, a manager told him there was only one nurse on the second floor.
“One nurse for 96 residents,” Baillie said.
Revera has acknowledged it faced a staffing shortage on the night of Nov.6 but said care was provided with the help of support staff and people working overtime.
At the request of the Manitoba government, the Canadian Red Cross will begin on Friday helping staff and residents with daily living activities.
Calisto-Tavares, who was in the care home, said staff there are doing all they can but need help fast because many workers themselves have contracted the virus and have had to self-isolate.
“You can’t even imagine how the staff there are behind, can even begin to cope,” Calisto-Tavares said.
Revera has yet to respond to multiple requests for comment made Wednesday by CTV News.
The company’s president and CEO Thomas Wellner posted a message to residents, families and employees on its website Nov.11, which says Revera’s focus remains on caring for residents and containing the spread of the virus.
“For Revera, nowhere was the challenge more acute over the past several days than in Winnipeg, where there is extremely high community spread and two of our long term care homes, The Maples and Parkview Place, are experiencing significant COVID-19 outbreaks that have claimed the lives of a number of residents,” a portion of the statement reads. “Support, like trust, is something that is given, not taken. It is a gift we value, and I am writing today to confirm that we will continue to work hard to earn it.”