Coronavirus: Families of Toronto nursing home residents feeling anxiety, grief and gratitude

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Coronavirus: Families of Toronto nursing home residents feeling anxiety, grief and gratitude
WATCH ABOVE: Catherine McDonald has the latest from Seven Oaks long-term care home. – Apr 15, 2020

Jayne Thompson Cascagnette and her sister Linda Gay want to thank the caregivers at Seven Oaks Long-Term Care Home in Scarborough where their mother lived.

“When this is all over, I’m giving everyone on the fifth floor a big hug,” said Thompson Cascagnette, speaking about the way the nurses and personal support workers treated her 89-year-old mother during her three-and-a-half years she lived at the facility.

Her mother Phyllis Thompson died on April 5 due to COVID-19.

The day before her mother passed away, Thompson Cascagnette got a call from a worker telling her that her mother, who suffered from dementia, had become ill with a fever and a cough.

READ MORE: Death toll rises to 22 at Scarborough long-term care home

The next morning, Thompson Cascagnette called Seven Oaks and was told her mom seemed to be doing better, but then around 10:30 a.m. the phone rang again.

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“The nurse called me and said, ‘I’m in your mother’s room. Would you like to talk to her?’ I got to tell her I love her and then at 11 o’clock, the nurse called crying, saying, ‘Your mother has passed away,’” she explained.

As the provincial government enacted a 14-day emergency order preventing staff from working at more than one long-term care home to reduce the spread of COVID 19, Thompson Cascagnette had nothing but praise for those who cared for her mother until the end.

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“I love you so much for doing that,” she said, calling the staff “angels.”

READ MORE: Doug Ford opens door to systemic changes to Ontario’s long-term care system

“You gave me a gift amongst all this horrible situation and your fear for your own life going into work. You gave one daughter a gift and so you were my mother’s daughter as well.”

Toronto Public Health said 22 residents have now died at Seven Oaks and another 96 are sick with the virus.

Julie Hibbett’s mother, Maria Teresa Echevarria, is among those who have fallen ill. Her 87-year-old mother, who also suffers from dementia, was tested for COVID-19 on April 6. The test came back positive two days later.

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“She could be the next one to go, I don’t know. Will they call me right away? I can’t see her. I can’t say my final goodbyes,” said Hibbett, standing just two hundred metres from her mother’s third-floor window.

Hibbett said her mother is asymptomatic and appears to be doing well. But she said she is relieved to hear that staff will no longer be allowed to work at more than one long-term care home.

“At least I know that they’re only working here and not going to other homes where they can potentially catch it there and bring it here,” Hibett said.

“My mother came from the Basque country in Spain. She is a strong woman.”

READ MORE: 8 more dead from COVID-19 at Toronto nursing home, 101 confirmed and probable cases

Officials at the City of Toronto, which owns and operates Seven Oaks, previously said staff have been offered full-time hours.

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Meanwhile, the two women don’t know one another and both made the difficult decision to put their ailing mothers into a nursing home. And both said they are grateful for the care their mothers received.

“I didn’t want her just to be a statistic. I wanted to be able to say to the staff at Seven Oaks, the residents aren’t just numbers, they’re family — and we are too,” said Thompson Cascagnette.

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