Iris was a resident of the Chartwell Ballycliffe long-term care home in Ajax, Ontario. On April 12, the health facility announced that four residents had died from COVID-19, and 25 other residents and staff had confirmed cases.
Margaret and the rest of her family could not see Iris – Ballycliffe had been closed to visitors since mid-March – and the facility’s nurses and personal support workers were too busy using their phones to allow the family making video chats.
“I know they were quite stressed by the pandemic,” said Margaret Roper to the National Post.
Finally, Roper went to visit his mother in Ballycliffe. Since they were not allowed inside, Roper visited him through the window of his downstairs bedroom. Roper could see her, but Iris was not very sensitive – it seemed like her eyes were not focused. The nurses later told him that many of the residents who had been diagnosed with coronavirus were lethargic.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Roper.
But there was light.
On April 17 – the day the facility informed Iris’ family that she had been placed in hospice care – Margaret’s sister stood by the window when she saw a man treating his mother. According to Margaret, he started waving her phone with her visible number and she called him.
“He put the phone close to her ear and she was able to chat with mom,” said Margaret. “All of a sudden, she clapped her hands. “
The next day, Margaret and a few family members visited her and, hearing about her sister’s experience the day before, went to ask at reception if someone was available to call them in Iris’ room, but in vain.
But Margaret said that when he returned, the man was back in his mother’s room. They called her and she said the family was able to say goodbye while the man was holding Iris’ hand.
You’re not just the maintenance guy, you’re a saint for your kindness
Before hanging up, Margaret asked if she could speak to the man.
“I said thank you for attending my mom,” she said. “Are you a PSW or a nurse? He looked around and said, “No, I’m just the maintenance guy. “
“I said” No sir, you’re not just the maintenance guy, you’re a saint for your kindness. “”
Sharon Ranalli, vice president of marketing and communications at Chartwell Retirement Residences, which manages Ballycliffe, told the National Post that the employee was unavailable for comment. He is “a very humble man.”
“Our staff work not only to provide care, but also, as you heard at Chartwell Ballycliffe, compassion, support and kindness. Our employees are very special people, ”she said.
Iris Roper died on April 20 while listening to big band music – her favorite – on the radio, but Margaret and some parents were allowed to be by her side.
“She had a peaceful death,” said Margaret Roper.