Deceased resident’s family and former Maimonides staff outraged over outbreak

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The daughter of a resident who died on May 15 at the Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre and a former worker who spent one month at the facility claim the number of deaths could have been curbed if sanitary protocols had been respected.

“I was very outraged because the time that I was there I was working in the hot zone,” said a former member of the infection control team, whom Global News has agreed to keep anonymous. 

“I was with COVID-19 all day long. I had talked to many of the staff because they were not wearing the stuff properly, they were ignoring me, they were calling me names.”

Despite alerting the facility’s human resources department and a supervisor, he feels nothing was done to correct the situation. 

READ MORE: 14 Canadian Armed Forces troops deployed to Maimonides after outbreak takes 34 lives

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“In my email (to HR) I had sent a month ago, I had specifically stated that it wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ it was going to spread through Maimonides it was a matter of ‘when’ it was going to spread,” he said. 

“They didn’t care. One guy was 20 (years of age) he was like, ‘Well if I get it I’m young.’ I’m like, ‘Yes, but if you get it you could spread it.'” 

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The local health board (CIUSSS West-Central Montreal) has not responded to a request for comment regarding the workers allegations that he sounded the alarm more than one month ago. 

Sixteen workers are currently infected and off work according to the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal. Fourteen Canadian Armed Forces troops have been onsite since last week to help make up for staff shortages.

READ MORE: Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Côte Saint-Luc grappling with coronavirus outbreak

“The government called in the army and that’s great but what about all the families that had members that passed away and now it’s more than 34,” said Marla Spergel, whose 89-year old father passed away on May 15th. 

The families of deceased residents are tracking the number of deaths in a Facebook group and many are baffled that the majority of deaths took place in May (20 according to their statistics), two months after strict safety protocols were supposedly in place.

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Marla Spergel and her father Harry Schwartz
Marla Spergel and her father Harry Schwartz. Provided by Marla Spergel

“I’m really angry, I know that nothing is going to bring him back but I’m so mad,” said Spergel, who wishes more had been done to protect her father.

Harry Schwartz suffered from Alzeihmers and Parkinsons but his daughter insists there was no reason for him to contract the virus.

According to Spergel, many families suspect the outbreak could have been contained if staff members and all people entering the facility had been properly screened.

“Obviously these poor innocent people who were living in wheelchairs that don’t go anywhere can’t bring the disease or the virus in,” she said. Spergel now lives in Toronto and says she wants justice for her father and feels he was cheated of his basic religious rights, considering the circumstances.

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“There’s a Jewish tradition and they’re cleaned before they get buried and this couldn’t happen so they wrapped him up in plastic bags,” said Spergel.

“I’m not happy with the way Maimonides treated this virus. This should never have happened.”