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Coronavirus: Families fear DDO long-term care residence could become next Herron

Click to play video: 'DDO nursing home reporting an over 50 per cent COVID-19 infection rate' DDO nursing home reporting an over 50 per cent COVID-19 infection rate
A nursing home in DDO is reporting 56 per cent of its residents are infected with COVID-19. The infection rate is among the highest of all senior homes in the West Island, with the exception of the Herron residence in Dorval. So why isn't the Canadian military being deployed there? Global's Dan Spector explains – Apr 20, 2020

Families of residents living at a seniors’ home in the West Island fear it could become the next Herron if help doesn’t arrive soon.

On Friday, the West Island Regional Health Authority (CIUSSS) told Global News the Centre d’hebergement Vigi Dollard-des-Ormeaux had 14 COVID-19 cases, with one death. As of Saturday, that number had spiked to 89 cases, with two deaths. Fifty-six per cent of the residents there have the virus.

“Every night I pray my mom will be OK,” said Karen Squires, whose 89-year-old mother has lived at the privately-owned residence for about a year.

Squires says communication with the residence has gone silent since Thursday.

“They’re probably all overwhelmed over there, so they can’t answer calls. They’re missing people, missing staff,” Squires told Global News.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Quebec cases surpass 18,000, deaths climb to 877

Palmira Arrizza is also concerned. Her 94-year-old mother at Vigi DDO lives with Alzheimer’s.

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“We’re worried is there enough staff there to take care of all these patients and residents?” she said.

Both are thinking of the situation at the Herron residence, where there were not enough staff to provide basic care like feeding and cleaning.

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“She doesn’t deserve to go out like that,” Squires said of her mother.

“We don’t want people to pass away for reasons other than COVID, like what happened at Herron,” said Arrizza, fearful that her mother and other residents are not being fed or hydrated. “They’ve reassured me she is getting the basics, but I’m not so sure. I do think they could use some help.”

The Canadian Armed Forces were on the ground both in Laval and St. Lambert on Sunday.

Both women would like to see soldiers called into Vigi DDO.

“If they don’t have enough people there, call in the army. Why not?” said Arrizza.

For now, the Forces are committed to five residences chosen by the province.

“We wish we could support them all and unfortunately we are keeping within our lines and what the Quebec government is asking of us and the Canadian government,”  Royal Canadian Navy Lieutenant-Commander Heather Galbraith told Global News outside CHSLD Valeo in St. Lambert.

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In a statement, Vigi Santé told Global News they understand the families’ concerns and said they’re working to upgrade their communication system so families can speak with loved ones and staff can focus on providing care. They said more than 130 video conference calls between residents and their loved ones have taken place and more are on the way.

“Families of residents suspected of having COVID-19 have been notified about the health status of their parent,” said Vigi Santé spokesperson Anick Drouin in an email statement. She said residents are being provided basic care.

“I’m just on pins and needles waiting for them to call,” said Arrizza.

Vigi says it’s dealing with the same staff shortage as other facilities.

“We are waiting for more numerous resources from the West Island CIUSSS, with whom we are working to prevent an eventual rupture in service. We are also taking steps to recruit people for permanent positions,” said Drouin, adding that the staff on hand are fully committed to offering quality service to residents.

Squires said she offered to help Vigi as a volunteer but had not heard back.

The West Island CIUSSS says an official of theirs has been on site since last Thursday, and that they have sent one doctor and volunteer nurses to help at Vigi DDO.

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“The transfer of residents confirmed to have COVID-19 into a confinement zone at the CHSLD has been done. These transfers have been done in function with the priorities established by our infection prevention team. All necessary protection measures are being taken,” said West Island CIUSSS spokesperson Guillaume Berubé.

The CIUSSS pointed to the volunteers being trained by the Red Cross that will soon be deployed to West Island seniors’ homes.

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