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Airdrie mother dies alone in Calgary nursing home after contracting COVID-19

‘She didn’t want to die alone’: Heartbroken daughter speaks out about mom’s final days in Calgary nursing home
WATCH: A woman is coming forward with details about her mother’s final moments in a Calgary long-term care facility. As Tracy Nagai reports, she now wants answers as to why her mother had to die without loved ones by her side.

A woman is hoping clearer messaging from the Alberta government will save another family from heartbreak after her mother died from the novel coronavirus alone in a Calgary long-term care facility.

“She was a very happy person,” Brittany Patrick said in a interview from Winnipeg. “She loved to shop and she loved talking with her friends and family.”

Brittany said her mother, Jennifer Patrick, was just 65 years old when she passed away at the Extendicare Hillcrest in mid-April after contracting COVID-19.

READ MORE: Alberta adjusts visitor rule for continuing care facilities to balance ‘quality of life’

“She was diagnosed on April 17 and she passed on the morning of April 19,” Brittany said. “So it only took two days form being diagnosed until she passed away, like it went quick.”

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Brittany said she’s unsure what the messaging was from Extendicare Hillcrest, but said her father was told he wouldn’t be able to visit his wife.

“He got in contact with them to try and be able to go see her because he wanted to be there for her…  I don’t quite know what happened there to be honest,” Brittany said.

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“It bothers me. For a long time before she passed away she would tell me she didn’t want to die alone.”

In a statement, Michael Bittante, the regional director of Extendicare, said families were notified of a COVID-19 outbreak on April 14.

“Maintaining open communication with family members is especially important while we work through this COVID-19 situation,” Bittante said.

“We can confirm that the family agent of the resident in question was contacted.”

Bittante didn’t specify exactly what was communicated to Brittany’s father. Global News has reached out for more information but hasn’t heard back by time of publication.

 

READ MORE: Order to reduce COVID-19 spread delayed as Alberta’s nurse union files grievance

Bittante added Extendicare is reviewing the revised visitation protocols and will implement them as applicable.

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“We continue to provide end-of-life visitation with families when possible,” Bittante said. “Unfortunately, this is not always possible for a number of reasons, including the pace that a resident’s illness progresses, which does not always allow the time we would hope to have.”

READ MORE: Order to reduce COVID-19 spread delayed as Alberta’s nurse union files grievance

On Wednesday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw clarified the rules for end-of-life visits and said people would be allowed to visit their loved ones approximately two weeks before their death.

READ MORE: 190 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 3 new deaths

Prior to the province’s announcement Wednesday, only one visitor was permitted at a time and the facility’s manager would determine if the patient’s condition was considered end-of-life.

“Up to two visitors at a time will be allowed to visit a patient who is dying as long as physical distancing can be maintained between the visitors,” Hinshaw said.

“There have been a number of examples where this policy has been applied in a more restrictive way than was intended.”

READ MORE: Calgary group homes struggle to navigate COVID-19 pandemic

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Alberta Health Advocates, which helped to bring the issue forward to Hinshaw, said it wanted to get ahead of the problem.

“I can advise that the numbers of calls are not significant at this time,” health advocate Janice Harrington said. “However, the team recognized that it could become so and recommended additional clarity.”