Families and health officials are struggling when it comes to finding out the true impact of novel coronavirus on seniors in Quebec long-term care homes.
Karen Squires’ 90-year-old mother lives at the Vigi Dollard-des-Ormeaux, one of the worst-hit seniors homes in the province. She has been following the COVID-19 numbers put out by the government on a daily basis very closely, but lately, the statistics have her confused.
“When I saw the stats, I was like ‘no, that’s really wrong!” she told Global News.
The West Island Health Authority (CIUSSS) told Global News 66 people have died of COVID-19 at Vigi DDO since the pandemic began, but on the table the Quebec government published on its website Friday, it says 33 people have died of COVID-19 at Vigi DDO.
“I think the numbers are getting mixed up,” Squires said.
The problem extends well beyond Vigi DDO. At Centre d’hebergement Denis Benjamin Viger in Ile Bizard, the West Island CIUSSS told Global News this week there had been 14 COVID-19 deaths. The latest government table shows only nine.
The Lakeshore Hospital is a designated COVID-19 centre. Tuesday, the West Island CIUSSS told Global News there were 76 active COVID-19 cases there. Quebec says there are three.
“We are looking at the differences that can come from different reports. There are ones that are manual, ones that are different systems. Even the ones that measure the deaths, there are two or three systems that do it, and we sometimes have some differences,” explained Quebec Public Health Director Horacio Arruda.
Arruda admitted officials are struggling to get the numbers right, but promised there is no plot to suppress alarming statistics.
“We didn’t have any command, or anybody say ‘don’t show the data,” he said.
“It’s just that we have problems getting it in the right place.”
The Quebec Health Ministry also admitted the problem to Global News in a statement.
“We are indeed aware that there seem to be problems with the different data. We are trying to resolve the situation,” said Robert Maranda, a Quebec Health Ministry spokesperson.
The West Island CIUSSS said its data is from closer to the field.
“As the situation is changing rapidly, there may be a gap between the number of cases and deaths recorded in the field and the official data,” said West Island CIUSSS spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé.
“The Prime Minister is asking us every morning ‘where is the data?’ We are making sure the one we’re going to put is the right one,” said Arruda.
Squires is supposed to go into Vigi DDO on Monday to begin caring for her mother, who seemingly has beat COVID-19.
“She beat the COVID. It’s amazing, on one kidney,” said Squires.
It would be useful to know just what she’s in for when she enters the embattled residence, but until the government gets its numbers straight, she won’t know the reality until she sees it for herself.