Winnipeg’s mayor is calling on the provincial government to consider all options — including calling in the military — to help at Maples Personal Care Home after city ambulance crews were called to the facility 18 times over 24 hours this weekend.
Within the care home, seven have died from COVID-19 since Friday and one other person who was near the end of their life died from natural causes also died, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said at a rare weekend press conference.
At least 22 patients, however, have died of COVID-19 since the virus infiltrated the personal care home less than two weeks ago and Global News has learned that Winnipeg police are investigating to determine if residents received adequate care or if there was a failure to provide the necessities of life.
“The events of the last few days at Maples Personal Care Home, as we’ve come to learn, can only really be described as sickening,” said Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman at a Monday morning press conference.
The province needs to be more proactive in planning than it has been so far, Bowman said.
“I would say to the province, they should be considering all options, including the military, to provide the assistance that they clearly need.”
Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief John Lane laid out an overview of a busy weekend for paramedics at the care home Monday, which started with the first 911 call from the facility at 7:10 p.m. Friday.
He said a paramedic unit attended and took one patient to hospital in stable condition, but just two minutes later “several 911 calls were received simultaneously” for “moderately ill patients” at Maples.
“The platoon chief of paramedic operations quickly realized that this was unusual and contacted both the Maples and the WRHA — the executive on call — to evaluate the situation,” said Lane, who said another paramedic unit and a district chief of paramedic operations were sent to perform an onsite assessment.
“Those three individuals assessed a total of 10 additional patients and finished their work at the Maples on Saturday morning at approximately 2 a.m.”
In all, three additional patients were taken to hospital from Friday into Saturday, Lane said, including one in critical condition and two in stable, Lane said. Seven others were treated at the scene with either IV fluids or oxygen therapy.
He said the district chief decided to treat patients at the home because if all had been taken to hospital it “would have overwhelmed our resources in the fire paramedic service, it would have overwhelmed the receiving hospitals, and quite potentially, (it) could have spread COVID unnecessarily through other locations.”
Lane says an ambulance was stationed at the personal care home until Sunday morning to act as a rapid response team and help with primary care of residents.
On Saturday night, Lane said paramedics assessed 12 patients, including five who required treatment at the scene and two who needed to be taken to hospital.
Overnight Sunday into Monday, Lane says nine patients were assessed, five were treated at the scene, and three needed to be taken to hospital.
While Lane said there were no “negative impacts” to ambulance service across this weekend, he warned that may not always be the case.
“If we move into a … mode where we are beginning to queue calls again, we will have to remove the ambulance from that location to attend high-priority calls.”
Not the first time
Lane said it’s not the first time city paramedics have been called to a situation similar to what they found at Maples Friday night.
He said the platoon chief of paramedic operations called in assess the unfolding scene at Maples benefited from having experience at a recent similar call at Parkview Place personal care home, another Winnipeg Revera-owned facility facing a deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
“It was really that experience that prompted him to realize that — certainly based on the experience from transferring multiple patients out of Parkview at that time — that we needed to approach this differently,” Lane said.
“What happened in that particular situation was that the emergency department of this hospital received a number of patients and quickly ran out of space.”
A city spokesperson later provided Global News further information on the previous call Lane had mentioned.
The city says WFPS were called to Parkview Place around 2:20 p.m. Oct. 19 where they “assessed, treated and transported” five patients to hospital over the span of just over two hours. All patients were in stable condition, the city says.
Fire paramedic crews were called back again shortly after 7 p.m. the same day and transported a sixth patient to hospital in stable condition, the city said.
Lane said the WFPS is now working with the care home and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to provide resources at Maples through the week before “handing care of the patients in the Maples centre to either the Canadian Red Cross or other appropriate agencies by the end of the week.”
Last week the province confirmed it had called in the Canadian Red Cross at both Maples and Parkview Place Personal Care Home.
The Red Cross is expected to move into both facilities by Friday.
Parkview Place Long Term Care Home and Maples Personal Care Home 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.”
Revera gave bad staffing data: WRHA
At a press conference later in the day Monday the WRHA said Revera had previously provided false information about staffing levels last Friday night, and admitted the facility was understaffed at the time WFPS was called.
The company originally said 13 of 19 scheduled health care aides were on duty.
But the WRHA says it has since learned that, for much of the evening shift, only seven aides were working.
“It’s really unfortunate that we’re here today to have to correct that record,” Winnipeg Regional Health Authority president and CEO Vickie Kaminski said.
The authority says it will now have someone on site every day to check on the situation.
Global News has reached out to Revera for comment.
While Lane stopped short of saying the military is needed at Maples, Bowman said the province needs to look at all options — including the military
“We’ve been there this week and we will react when that planning and the resources clearly haven’t been enough — and there clearly haven’t been lessons learned from other provinces, that quite frankly should have been,” Bowman said.
“I would urge them to consider all options to make sure that they can get the resources in place to do what clearly needs to be done right now.”
Over the weekend Gina Trinidad, the WRHA’s chief operating officer of long-term care, said there are no plans to deploy the military.
On Sunday, Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen said he has called for an immediate investigation at Maples Personal Care Home.
As of Monday at least 177 residents at Maples have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Parkview Place, has recorded 152 COVID-19 cases and 23 deaths among residents, according to the province.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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