Coronavirus: Personal support worker at Toronto nursing home dies of COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Family mourns Toronto long-term care worker who died due to COVID-19'
Family mourns Toronto long-term care worker who died due to COVID-19
WATCH ABOVE: Christine Mandegarian’s husband described the 54-year-old as ‘kind-hearted’ and said she had been working at a Scarborough care facility for 31 years. Kamil Karamali reports – Apr 17, 2020

A personal support worker at an east-end Toronto nursing home has died of COVID-19, marking the first publicly-confirmed death of a Toronto long-term care worker since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The woman who died, identified by her husband as Christine Mandegarian, worked at Altamont Care Community, near Port Union Road and Highway 401.

“She was a fantastic mother, a fantastic wife and a fantastic worker,” said Paul Mandegarian. “She was very friendly and a very hard working woman.”

Paul went on to say Christine’s death will be a huge shock to their street, as she was known and well-liked by neighbours.

“She gave her life over there [Altamont], she gave her life for the senior citizens over there.”

Paul said Christine worked at Altamont for 31 years and would have been 55 years old in a week.

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However, Paul also told Global News he was angry with the home, who he said hasn’t called him yet to talk about his wife.

“I’m not upset, I’m mad after my wife worked 31 years in that place and that’s how they treat my wife?” he said, adding he doesn’t believe they took proper care of her.

READ MORE: Ontario Nurses’ Association calls work conditions in care homes ‘unfathomable’

Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare — the union that represents front-line workers, said in a statement Thursday evening and praised Mandegarian.

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“The tragic death of our union sister is a reminder of the very real dangers that frontline health care workers face in the selfless delivery of care for Ontario families,” Stewart wrote.

“We have heard from her colleagues who described her as a gentle, caring, and dedicated personal support worker. She will be missed and remembered.”

Paul described his wife the same way.

“She was a great person, very kind hearted, very loving, very friendly. She would give her clothes off her back…” he said.

According to Toronto Public Health, there were 12 deaths connected to the facility that are related to COVID-19 as of Friday. Sienna Senior Living, the company that operates the facility, said as of Friday, there were 79 residents and 21 staff cases. The union said one of those staff members was in serious condition.

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Sienna Senior Living issued a statement in response to Mandegarian’s death.

“On behalf of the entire team at Altamont Care Community, we mourn the passing of a much-loved and valued team member. She will be sadly missed by all of her colleagues and by all the residents she cared for,” Natalie Gokchenian, the company’s director of communications, told Global News in a statement.

When asked about concerns about the protections put in place for workers, she said the facility has “always had the correct PPE and has used it in accordance with public health and provincial directives.”

The union called on an “immediate discussion” with Ontario officials to “review what actions the provincial government is prepared to take to support front line health care workers as they fight for all of us against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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READ MORE: Brampton hospital worker dies from complications of coronavirus

On Thursday, Ontario health officials said 980 health-care workers to date have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Toronto’s medical officer of health said 41 long-term care homes in the city are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.

An outbreak is defined as one or more residents being diagnosed with the virus.

With files from Jessica Patton and Kamil Karamali

Christine Mandegarian was identified by her husband Paul as the personal support worker who past away due to COVID-19.
Christine Mandegarian was identified by her husband Paul as the personal support worker who past away due to COVID-19.

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