A personal support worker (PSW) who died on Wednesday after contracting COVID-19 did not receive appropriate personal protective equipment at work, according to his family.
Leonard Rodriques, 61, was an employee of Access Independent Living Services and provided services to people with physical support needs at Access Apartments, located near Keele Street and Eglinton Avenue West.
His family said that he did not have access to proper personal protective equipment (PPE) at his workplace and that he had to buy his own masks at the dollar store.
“There are so many PSWs like him who are unprotected,” said daughter Terena Rodriques in an interview with CTV News Toronto on Friday. “My father died, he left, and there are many families who lost their loved ones because they were unprotected. “
“And because of COVID, we weren’t even able to ship it properly. The last thing we saw was his body on the ground. “
The family of Leonard Rodriques told CTV News Toronto that he started feeling sick on April 6 after learning that a colleague at the same location had tested positive for the disease. He was sent home to isolate himself and appeared to recover within a few days.
He tested positive for COVID-19 about two weeks later and had to extend his isolation period. Last week, her condition suddenly worsened.
“He just dived out of nowhere,” said Terena Rodriques. “He couldn’t get an entire sentence out. Everything was breathless … it was difficult to speak. “
On May 4, they decided to call 9-1-1. After describing the symptoms to the dispatcher, they were advised to take him to the Humber River Hospital, but he was cleared and sent home a few hours later.
In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for the Humber River Hospital said: “As an organization, we are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Mr. Leonard Rodriques. Standard hospital policy includes clinical assessments for safe discharge and instructions for return to the emergency department for any reason. “
Two days later, his wife found him motionless in his room.
“I saw him flat on his back with the phone in his hand and the glasses were all twisted on his face,” said Dorothy Rodriques.
She remembers the chaotic moments when her daughter performed CPR until the paramedics arrived.
“My daughter says” I am tired, I am tired “and my son shouts” Dad, do not leave us. “”
Leonard Rodriques was pronounced dead at 12:27 a.m. on May 6.
Rodriques was a member of Unifor Local 40, who considers his death to be preventable. “This tragedy could have been avoided if he had only had access to appropriate personal protective equipment,” said Jerry Dias, National President of Unifor. “Our COVID heroes deserve better. “
Access Independent Living Services released a statement Friday evening regarding the alleged shortage of PPE.
“Access works diligently with public health, our staff, our consumers and our unions and takes all possible steps to ensure that the appropriate security protocols are in place and enforced,” said Michael Mathieson, executive director of Access. “PPE has been and is available and is used when necessary in accordance with public health directives and directives. “
“My deceased husband is living proof that they were not protected,” said Dorothy Rodriques.
Dorothy and Terena Rodriques also claim that they have been turned away from COVID-19 test centers because they are not essential workers.
Not knowing if they are COVID positive, they continue to isolate themselves at home.
“Right now, our family is in limbo,” said Terena Rodriques. “We don’t know where we are in terms of health. The trauma that has been forgotten about it, we just don’t know. “