Soldiers from the Canadian Armed Forces were deployed to the Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Côte Saint-Luc on Wednesday, to assist residents and help alleviate pressure on staff members.
The facility has been grappling with a COVID-19 outbreak since May. On Monday, health authorities confirmed that 34 residents have died since the start of the pandemic.
A total of 113 residents, which represents one third of residents, and 39 staff members have tested positive for the virus.
“Hopefully they’ll do what they’ve done in many other facilities which is help the local regional health board go back to green,” said Anthony Housefather, Member of Parliament for the Mount Royal riding.
“They’ve left facilities with no cases and I hope that will happen here.”
According to health board that oversees the facility, 14 troops moved in on Wednesday.
“We have a general crew of approximately 14 soldiers that have offered to help out in many ways — from medical care to housekeeping tasks,” said Lauren Schwartz, communications officer for the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal.
Housefather credits all levels of government for working together in the file and hopes the move will help alleviate an overworked staff.
“We’ve really had a team approach here in this riding,” said Housefather.
“People were very concerned about a lack of testing, a lack of communication and one of the things that made people more secure was the idea of the Armed Forces coming in.”
One resident who suffers from multiple sclerosis welcomes the extra help, but also worries about an increase in transmission of the virus with the influx of people in the building.
“I know some of the military tested positive in other residences,” said 43-year-old Mendy Fellig, who moved into the Maimonides in March, 2016.
The young father had a relapse just before the pandemic and has been confined to his room for more than three months. He hopes more staff members will mean he can finally exit the building for a breathe of fresh air.
“They’re doing their best but having more PABs (orderlies), more nurses, that would be helpful,” said Fellig, adding that the army should have been called in sooner.
“Earlier it would’ve helped more, things are more under control now.”