More than a month after the long-term care lockout in Ontario, Cathy Parkes learned that COVID-19 had reached her father’s long-term care home.
During a call with Paul Parkes shortly after the announcement of the epidemic, his voice was weak, making him believe that he was already struggling with the virus.
“My brother managed to reach him briefly on Easter Sunday and said he couldn’t speak at all,” said Parkes.
She said she spent the day trying to reach someone at home, only to find a nurse at 9:15 p.m. He told her that he couldn’t stamp his father until he have fever. But overnight, her father’s temperature started to rise.
The next day, Parkes went to Orchard Villa and stood in front of his father’s window, looking inside. She could see that her father was in bad shape. She requested that the 86-year-old man be transferred to the hospital.
“He was not well”
“I knew as soon as I saw him that he was not well,” she said. “I kept saying, Dad, turn your head and look at me. He couldn’t do it. ”
She got hold of the nurses in the evening and requested that he be transferred to the hospital.
But the mapping report from that night confirms that the official advised against this. Parkes said staff assured him his father was fine and had eaten most of his lunch that day.
“I thought it was not possible,” said Parkes. “I was there at 12:05 pm at lunchtime and he was comatose. ”
CBC’s The National and Marketplace investigated the epidemic at Orchard Villa through a front-line whistle-blowing report and in-depth interviews with family members of the residents. They discovered that the families were receiving false information and made it appear that the house was handling the situation when it was not.
Exclusive hidden camera images show that even two years ago the home was under-prepared for an emergency of this magnitude, and a five-year analysis of inspection reports paints a picture of a home with problems well-known who may have prepared the house for failure.
“He was not fed”
Parkes, whose father died of COVID-19 at home on April 15, was not the only one who said she was discouraged from seeking hospital intervention on behalf of their loved one at Orchard Villa.
Raquel John-Matuzewiski said she had been told the same thing.
WATCH | One girl ignored advice from a nursing home and believes she saved her father’s life:
Two days after Parkes’ father died, John-Matuzewiski’s father, Chester John, tested positive for COVID-19.
A week later, when John-Matuzewiski saw that his 79-year-old father was not well, she also requested his transfer to the hospital. She said she was told that if her symptoms worsened, her father would start palliative home care because the hospital did not accept long-term care patients.
But when a FaceTime call revealed his father had dropped sharply in just 24 hours, John-Matuzewiski said that she had called the nursing station and insisted that he be taken to hospital immediately. The house must.
Malnourished and dehydrated
“I no longer thought that … the well-being and safety of my father could be entrusted to them,” said John-Matuzewiski.
But when John-Matuzewiski arrived at the hospital, she learned that her father’s poor condition was not solely due to COVID-19. He also suffered from malnutrition and dehydration.
“It told me, obviously, that he was not being fed, fed or hydrated as they had told me in weeks,” she said.
After John was put on an IV and into a feeding tube, he recovered and is in stable condition at Ajker Pickering Hospital in Lakeridge Health.
Lakeridge Health, the health authority that runs the hospital, told the CBC in a statement that there had never been a period when it did not accept long-term care patients.
Citing “reasons of confidentiality,” Orchard Villa executive director Jason Gay declined to explain why families were discouraged from sending their loved ones to the hospital.
“We cannot comment on the problems of individual residents for reasons of confidentiality, so unfortunately we cannot respond to most of your requests,” Gay said in a statement. “Our team at Orchard Villa contacted health partners and the government early and often and all the help provided was welcomed. “
“They’re lying to you”
Parkes said that the night she tried to send her father to the hospital, the nurses told her that everyone who tried to go to the hospital had been rejected. Either the paramedics would not take them, or they would come to the hospital and be fired.
But she had contacted the hospital earlier and was told that they would take them.
However, Parkes said nurses still insisted that the hospital was wrong. ” [They told me] “No, they won’t. They’re lying to you. ”
Parkes decided to sleep on it and ask again the next day. But by that time, it was too late. Her father had died.
“We were not given the chance to survive,” she said. “I think if my father had been in the hospital he might have had a chance.
“I think everything in this situation has been badly done – everything that could be badly done has been badly done.” ”
WATCH | Orchard Villa told families that a nearby hospital would not accept their parents during the pandemic:
Families of Orchard Villa residents ask themselves many questions: Why were they discouraged from calling an ambulance? Why didn’t the home ask for help earlier? Did management really think they were in control?
If they did, they should not have been, according to a social worker whom the CBC agreed not to appoint, for fear that he would lose his job.
“I started my evening shift from three to eleven o’clock and I found the trays for breakfast and lunch sitting in front of the patients,” said the worker.
He said staff only help feed patients who needed food help before the pandemic. The others were doing well.
Whistleblower haunted by what he saw
“The patients who were sick with COVID, they had no energy … the food would be sitting right in front of them. ”
He said it was “disheartening” to see because the residents were hungry, but they did not have the strength to pick up a fork and eat.
“Imagine what it feels like … you put food in front [of them] and they can feel it, they can see it, but they can’t have it, “he said. “Not only were they hungry, it’s a carrot hanging in front of their faces, you know? ”
The worker no longer works at home, but experience still haunts him.
“Now that it’s over and I’ve been out of it for a while, I actually have PTSD-like symptoms,” he said.
The worker said he contacted the Ontario Ministry of Health and the Premier’s office, urging them to talk to front line workers about what is going on in these homes and how to fix it.
But according to Orchard Villa’s inspection reports from 2015 to 2019, the provincial government had already been alerted to the fact that the house was not ready to face what reports call “community disasters.”
For each year that a retirement home inspection report is posted on the Retirement Home Regulatory Authority’s website, a breach has been found in the emergency planning of Orchard Villa.
“A review of the emergency kit revealed that the only resources, supplies and equipment essential for the emergency response set aside were three flashlights,” said a 2015 inspection report.
The following year, according to a report, the house still did not have a full emergency plan, and there was “no evidence” of procedures for dealing with a community disaster or an emergency evacuation.
A follow-up report later in the year found no violation, but another violation of the emergency response plan was recorded in the next report in 2018. The 2017 and 2019 inspections were not conducted or their reports have not been published on the ORMR website.
No plan for a community disaster in 2017
Marketplace visited Orchard Villa in 2017 to investigate abuse in long-term care homes. At the time, the house was among the top 20 homes in Ontario for the worst records reported incidents of violence between staff and residents.
When the undercover reporter asked about the inspection reports on the wall, an administrator said that he had recently been drafted so that he had no plan to deal with a community disaster.
“The licensee provided an emergency plan that did not contain community disasters,” she laughed. “So we took corrective action to finish.
“Very often they can usually find something,” she said.
When the reporter visited the long-term care side of the home, staff appeared to be breaking their own infection control rules.
“We are not allowed to arrange visits during an epidemic,” said the staff member. “I’ll give you a quick look. ”
The journalist wandered the halls for 30 minutes without being informed of an epidemic before offering to visit her.
Other reports in the years leading up to the pandemic from retirement and long-term care regulators may have informed the provincial Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that this home may be struggling during a pandemic .
They reveal that staff were not trained in infection control, that there were multiple incidents of neglect and that there was a chronic shortage of staff, including 14 shifts in five months where there were no RNs on duty.
Residents lying on bare mattresses
Despite these reported incidents, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he was shocked by a report released a month after members of the Canadian Armed Forces were sent to five long-term care homes across the country. ‘Ontario, including Orchard Villa, to assist struggling institutions.
The report confirmed that a hydration program was not followed and that residents were lying on bare mattresses, left in soiled diapers in bed and fed while lying in bed, which, the report says, “Seems to have contributed” to the suffocating death of a resident.
“The people who were really sick were just dehydrated, I’m not convinced COVID killed a lot of people,” said the health worker. “And the reason I know this is that once the military started feeding them and making sure they got fluids, people bounced back faster.”
The government has since entrusted Lakeridge Health with the management of the home, and appointed other health authorities and hospitals to manage six more in Ontario.
“She was so dehydrated”
As shocked as the Prime Minister may be by the military report, many conclusions were predictable for family members with loved ones who lived at Orchard Villa.
Marie Tripp said she noticed problems right away when her mother, Mary Walsh, was admitted to Orchard Villa in April 2019. This is why she was there every day to take care of her mother long before the COVID lockout. -19 never locked her up.
“I was constantly asking for mom’s doctor’s appointments, follow-ups … something as simple as getting your hair done wasn’t even done for two months,” she said. “I had asked the same nurse over and over again all these questions [and she said] “I’m going to get there, I’m going to get there” and it got to the point that nobody was getting anything. ”
Tripp said that after her mother had received no pain medication for three days after skin cancer surgery, she decided to put a camera in her room to monitor her care during the hours when she couldn’t be there with her.
With the camera on, Tripp asked serious questions about how the house was handling the COVID-19 situation. When she watched the video, she noticed that her mother’s breathing was shallow and labored. She called the house and immediately put her on oxygen. In another case, she saw Walsh’s food and water left out of her reach. Tripp said that home calls often went unanswered for hours.
“I’m just trying to get help”
Tripp and his daughters went to visit his mother at the window of the house and saw that she was malnourished.
“My mom was so dehydrated, she had the call button in her hand and she was trying to drink from the call bell,” she said.
“I knew she was dying and I knew they would not let me in until the last hours,” she said. “The only thing we could do was knock on that window – I was afraid my daughters were going to break it – I was just trying to get help for mom. ”
Walsh died on April 20 at the age of 89.
WATCH | Daughter explains why she monitored her mother’s care using a camera:
Ralf Leswal said he was also at home every day for years before COVID because he did not trust that his wife, Karen Leswal, would be fed if he was not.
Karen Leswal had lived at Orchard Villa for 15 years before catching COVID-19. She had Huntington’s disease and needed a lot of care, which her husband felt needed to be strengthened.
Leswal visited the house every evening to feed his wife. He said it would take an hour to feed her and make sure she was hydrated.
“No one under normal conditions has this time to give to a resident. ”
Leswal said the house “never had enough staff,” a sentiment shared by inspectors who documented the shortage of staff in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 reports.
“For the worker, it’s all about time”
He said the home did not meet the care needs of residents before the pandemic even occurred.
“I cleaned my wife’s room personally because the level of housekeeping was ridiculous,” said Leswal.
“For the worker, it’s a question of time. If you spend 10 minutes on a resident, it means you have to spend less for the next resident, right? ” he said. “Sometimes they don’t even pay attention to the resident they work with because they think,” Oh, I have to be here, I have to be here, I have to be here. »»
Leswal was thrown out of the house for 43 days before receiving a call on April 27 to tell him that his wife was a palliative and that he should come and say goodbye to her. She died on April 30 at the age of 69.
“I really don’t know if she died from COVID or if she died from a combination of malnutrition, mistreatment,” he said. ” I have no idea.
“I knew my wife would someday pass,” he said. “But … she didn’t die on her terms. ”
Orchard Villa would not comment on the death for “confidentiality reasons”.
After eight weeks of Lakeridge Health intervention and seven weeks of military assistance, Orchard Villa is now COVID-free.
But with 78 people dead, families wonder how many people could have been saved if the house had been properly prepared or had asked for intervention earlier.
John-Matuzewiski, for his part, will not bring his father back to Orchard Villa after his discharge from the hospital.
“I told them that on the day of his admission [to hospital] “, did she say. Confidence has been broken. ”
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