Winnipeg police are investigating a series of COVID-19-related deaths at Maples Personal Care Home, Global News has learned.
The investigation will determine if residents received adequate care or if there was a failure to provide the necessities of life.
Winnipeg Police Service homicide investigators are speaking with paramedics, officials at Maples and the families of patients, police sources said.
The first 911 call from Maples Personal Care Home came in at 7:10 p.m. Friday.
By the time the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service left shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday, at least two people were dead of COVID-19.
Within the care home, seven have died from COVID-19 within the past two days — one other person who was near the end of their life died from natural causes, the Winnipeg Regional Authority said.
At least twenty-two patients, however, have died of COVID-19 since the virus infiltrated the personal care home less than two weeks ago.
Paramedics, including a district chief, assessed at least 12 COVID-19 positive patients at the care home for nearly seven hours — Winnipeg Regional Health Authority officials and an executive from the company that owns the home held a press conference Saturday evening after outrage over the conditions at the home spread across social media.
The officials provided details of the Friday night horror but answered few media questions directly.
Friday night, about 50 people were on staff at the care home, including at least seven registered nurses, 13 health-care aides, 15 general labourers and at least 12 security guards.
The WRHA said 169 people live there, while the care home is in the midst of a novel coronavirus outbreak.
As of Friday, the facility had 166 active cases.
The facility has seen a total of 176 cases since the pandemic began — 121 patients and 55 staff had been infected as of Friday.
On Friday, one person was taken to hospital in critical condition, another two were transported in stable condition, the City of Winnipeg confirmed in an email.
Another 12 patients were assessed by paramedics, and a number of patients were treated on scene.
A paramedic unit attended and transported one patient to hospital shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, the city confirmed in an email Saturday.
Two minutes later at 7:12 p.m. another 911 call was received and an ambulance with two paramedics and a district chief of paramedic operations responded and assessed 11 patients, finishing just before 2 a.m.
During that time, the city said, two more ambulances responded and transported two other patients who required hospital care.
Sheryl Lourenco’s 77-year-old mother has lived in the care home for nearly a year.
“People are dying and dropping like flies here and lots of them just need help with simple tasks like eating and bathing and they don’t have the staff to do it which means they’re not being fed and they’re not being bathed and it’s putting everybody in a real critical situation,” Lourenco said standing outside of the care home Saturday.
She wants the military brought in to deal with the outbreak at the care home.
“It’s devastating, it’s devastating, I know people in here, my mom is one of them. It’s heartwrenching, my heart breaks for my mom,” she said.
The Red Cross is deploying to the home this coming Friday.
Gina Trinidad, the WRHA’s chief operating officer of long-term care, said 20 Red Cross staffers will arrive to provide “additional support.”
However, Trinidad said, there are no plans to deploy the military.
An emergency response team of paramedics is also deploying to the home. It will be available to other personal care homes experiencing outbreaks, Trinidad said.
On Twitter, Health Minister Cameron Friesen said he was “devastated to learn today about the situation at Maples LTC Home,” adding that at 3:24 p.m. he had just come out of an urgent meeting with Revera, department officials and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
Opposition leader Wab Kinew released a statement Saturday saying paramedics shouldn’t be expected to fill in for the failures of the provincial government.
“The reports of paramedics providing life-saving care to residents of Maples PCH is shocking and deeply concerning,” he said.
“It’s long past time for the province to step in and take over control of Maples and Parkview Place PCHs. The Pallister government needs to step in today to make sure seniors and residents are receiving the care they need. Lives are hanging in the balance and there is no reason for delay. In addition, the province should call on any resource including the military or Red Cross to help so these residents are safe.”
Earlier this week the Canadian Red Cross had been called in to help at the Maples Personal Care Home and Parkview Place — those staffers won’t arrive until this Friday.
“Initially, health system leaders are working with the Red Cross to assess the ability to assist at Parkview Place and Maples Long Term Care Home,” Friesen said in a statement to Global News late Tuesday.
“The specific role of the Red Cross is still being finalized and more details will be released in the days to come.”
Parkview Place Long Term Care Home and Maples Personal Care Home — both run by the private company Revera — said they’re working with the Red Cross and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority on a plan “to provide additional staffing resources to support the residents with delivery of meals, recreation activities and companionship, maintaining isolation in rooms.”
As of Friday, the next-hardest hit long-term care home, Parkview Place, has had 147 total cases, 111 patients and 36 staff with 111 active cases remaining and 23 deaths.
- with files from Shane Gibson