Grieving families share heartbreak as 4th death from COVID-19 reported at Calgary care centre

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WATCH: A fourth death has been reported from the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre. As JIll Croteau reports, the family of a man who died from COVID-19 at the long-term care home is sharing their heartbreak – Apr 1, 2020

The family of 80-year-old Lorne Montague is dealing with the loss of a cherished father and grandfather.

READ MORE: Alberta’s COVID-19 death toll rises to 11

The senior was a resident of the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary. Montague tested positive for COVID-19 and died less than a week later.

Greg Montague with daughter Alyssa Montague. Jill Croteau/Global News

His son, Greg Montague, is trying to come to terms with the grief.

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“There’s so many emotions. I’m sad and angry,” Greg said.

“We all loved my grandpa a lot and didn’t get to see him as much as we would have liked. We didn’t want him to die alone in that home without family. It’s hard to accept how things happened for him,” Greg’s daughter Alyssa Montague said.

Lorne Montague. Courtesy: Montague family

The family went to see him the day before he died.

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The Montague family said communication was not consistent about his condition.

“When the nurse phoned to let me know he passed away, she asked about a funeral home, to get him picked up, and I was thinking, ‘No, I wasn’t shopping around for funeral homes because the last update I had he was doing better,'” Greg said.

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READ MORE: 3rd COVID-19 death reported at Calgary care centre; officials flag operational concerns

Revera runs the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre and confirmed that there have been four deaths related to COVID-19 at the facility.

Revera’s medical health officer said she could not speak to specific details but noted that staff communicate regularly with family members, keeping them up to date on conditions. She said it’s not unusual for a resident’s condition to improve or deteriorate rapidly and unpredictably.

“We understand how confusing and distressing this can be for families to understand and [our] hearts go out to them,” Dr. Rhonda Collins said.

READ MORE: Community supports seniors as 2 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed at Calgary continuing care home

Families of other McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre residents say that level of communication is nowhere near enough.

Nina Vaughn’s father Lorne tested positive for COVID-19.

“My father served 36 years in the military for this country and this is what he gets,” Vaughn said.

“I’m just really scared and I want him to know we love him and I’m fighting really hard to talk to him.”

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She said she is pleading with management for additional staff to help with communication through FaceTime and phone calls.

“It’s not complicated to come up with a communication plan to allow people to talk to their isolated family members who are scared and confused.”

Vaughn and Gauvreau families.
Vaughn and Gauvreau families. Courtesy: Renee Laboucane

In addition to Vaughn’s father, both her aunt Doreen Gauvreau and uncle Sylvio Gauvreau have also tested positive for COVID-19.

Doreen and Sylvio Gauvreau.
Doreen and Sylvio Gauvreau. Courtesy: Renee Laboucane

The Gauvreaus’ daughter, Renee Laboucane, spoke to Global News from her home in Nanaimo, B.C.

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“Not knowing if they’re deteriorating or if they’re OK — a simple phone call will help us feel better. It’s the unknown causing us fear. It’s a heartbreaking situation no matter how you look at,” Laboucane said.

Collins said she understands and shares the fears.

“We are doing everything, in partnership with Alberta Health Services, to protect the health and safety of everyone, communicating as often, as possible,” Collins said.

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