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Quebec families worried about proper care at West Island long-term care home

Click to play video 'COVID-19 cases on the rise at West Island long-term care home' COVID-19 cases on the rise at West Island long-term care home
WATCH: As of April 19, the CHSLD Vigi in Dollard-des-Ormeaux had 89 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and six fatalities, with a number of staffers out sick as well. The families of residents inside say they're extremely concerned. Global's Felicia Parrillo explains. – Apr 22, 2020

Palmira Arrizza got the call from Vigi Dollard-des-Ormeaux (DDO) on Tuesday that she never wanted to get.

“They told us that they didn’t know how much time she had and they were willing to let two of us go and have a few minutes with her,” she said.

Her 94-year-old mother was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday and passed away early Wednesday morning.

Palmira Arrizza and her mother, Ida. Courtesy of Palmira Arrizza
Palmira Arrizza and her mother, Ida. Courtesy of Palmira Arrizza. Palmira Arrizza

“They reassured me every time they spoke to me that she is being taken care of, she is being fed, she is being given her medication, but I don’t really know — I can’t prove that,” she said.

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

On Tuesday, families were sent a letter from the facility’s president, saying the residence was understaffed — indicating that a significant number of employees were removed from work as a preventive measure.

The residence added that Vigi Santé had not seen the effect of the government’s plan to deploy additional resources to CHSLDs.

“There’s been help,” said Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann on Wednesday at the government’s daily briefing on the COVID-19 situation in the province.

“The last report I got was just before the press conference,” she said.

“The CIUSSS l’Ouest-de-l’Île is really sending staff to help this private RPA and it’s going to be sufficient to give the care to all the people.”

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In fact, early Wednesday evening, Vigi DDO issued a press release that confirmed that there were 89 COVID-19 cases and six deaths at the centre.

The press release went on to say that the cry for help launched on April 21 had been heard.

“Thankfully our call for help was heard and human resources, including doctors, nurses and orderlies were sent to Dollard-les-Ormeaux by the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l ’Île-de-Montréal. Things are now under control,” according to Vigi Santé CEO Vincent Simonetta. 

A member of Vigi DDO’s health-care team, who asked not to be identified for fear of losing her job, told Global News she’s not surprised that the residence was facing staffing issues.

READ MORE: Quebec man files suit after 69 residents die of COVID-19 at care home

She tested positive for COVID-19 last week and suspects many of her colleagues are at home sick as well.

“From the first case, unfortunately, staff were moved from one section to another — what we would call today as a hot zone to a cold zone,” she said.

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The worker also said staff were not given the proper equipment or directives.

The Vigi statement released Wednesday confirms that.

“Many employees were taken out of the work schedule because they tested positive or for preventive measures,” the statement reads. “From 38 employees on April 14, there were 105 employees in isolation from work on April 21.”

“My mom is going to turn 90 this Saturday,” said Karen Squires, whose mom lives at the facility. “She might not even make it because the system has failed them.”