Families beg for more staff amid 4 more deaths at McKenzie Towne care home

Families beg for more staff support at Calgary’s McKenzie Towne care centre amid more COVID-19 deaths
WATCH: Those on the inside say front-line staff at Calgary's McKenzie Towne continuing care home are stretched too thin and despite best efforts, are at a breaking point. Jill Croteau reports.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, revealed late Friday there have been four more deaths related to COVID-19 at the McKenzie Towne Long Term Care Home in Calgary. 

That brings the total of confirmed cases at that facility to eight.

READ MORE: Alberta bans most visits to hospitals as 5 more people die of COVID-19

Brother and sister Gwen and Frank Rousseau are pleading for more staff to support the overwhelmed front-line staff.

Their 73-year-old mom Doris, is a resident of the continuing care home.

65 cases of COVID-19 at Calgary’s McKenzie Towne care centre
65 cases of COVID-19 at Calgary’s McKenzie Towne care centre

The siblings are grateful for the staff who are working tirelessly, but they’re desperate for more.

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“I’m terrified for all residents there. I know many of them and all the staff, they are wonderful, this should have never happened,” Gwen said.

“No matter how many wonderful people you have, there’s never enough, there’s never been enough.”

73-year-old Doris Rousseau.
73-year-old Doris Rousseau. Courtesy: Gwen Rousseau

“Not being able to see my mom and just frustrated with everything, there’s not enough help in there, they need help,” Frank said, choking back tears.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: All City of Calgary public events cancelled until June 30

Speaking to staff, Gwen said they are emotionally and physically exhausted.

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“The nurse is pleading with me that the situation is really bad in there. You can hear in their voices when you call,” Gwen said. “They do not have enough people to keep up with protocols.”

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“They are in dire straits and stretched so thin. They are doing everything they can.”

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

Gwen said she tries daily to reassure her mom but she can sense her worry.

“How long can I keep her safe on the outside?” Gwen said.

Doris Rousseau and her family.
Doris Rousseau and her family. Courtesy: Gwen Rousseau

The siblings are bracing for the spread to continue, expecting more positive cases, but they aren’t ready to prepare themselves for the worst-case scenario.

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“That I’m not gonna see my mom no more,” Frank said.

“I haven’t been able to visit since March the 9th. It’s so hard,” Gwen said.

READ MORE: Alberta man possibly exposed to COVID-19 charged after coughing in officer’s face: police

Revera’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Rhonda Collins, said staff are working hard.

“Staff are working tirelessly to provide compassionate care to our residents in the most difficult of circumstances. We continue to work closely with Alberta Health Services to follow their clinical care directives in managing this unprecedented outbreak,” Collins said.
“We continue our staff recruitment efforts and greatly appreciate the clinical support that Alberta Health Services is providing.”​

Volunteers at McKenzie Towne Church are carefully sanitizing and creating care packages for the staff at McKenzie Towne.  

Volunteers at McKenzie Towne Church.
Volunteers at McKenzie Towne Church. Jill Croteau/Global News

Stephanie Burns works at the church and is helping with packaging and deliveries.

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“We want the staff putting themselves in arms risk for contracting the virus to know they are thought of and encouraged and their efforts are truly appreciated beyond the care centre,” Burns said.

Care packages for McKenzie Towne staff.
Care packages for McKenzie Towne staff. Jill Croteau/Global News

There were enough community donations to make almost 250. The leftover compassion kits will be given to other care home workers.