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COVID-19 outbreak at Maimonides seniors residence in Côte Saint-Luc has residents, families on edge

Click to play video 'COVID-19 outbreak at Maimonides seniors residence in Côte Saint-Luc has residents and families on edge' COVID-19 outbreak at Maimonides seniors residence in Côte Saint-Luc has residents and families on edge
WATCH: In the last two weeks, 40 patients and staff members at Maimondies in Côte Saint-Luc have been diagnosed with COVDI-19 and six caregivers have also fallen ill. Families of those who live there say it's time for the government to act to get the outbreak under control. Global's Phil Carpenter has the details. – Nov 23, 2020

Residents and families of seniors at the Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Côte Saint-Luc — a government-run long-term care home, or CHSLD — are raising the alarm about a COVID-19 outbreak at the residence, after the number of infected residents jumped by a third in one week.

In numbers released by the Quebec Ministry of Health Monday, 40 residents have been infected, up from 26 a week ago.  Four have died.

Families blame staff shortages at the residence.

“Today one staff member, one PAB (orderly) found out that his wife had tested positive after he had already started his shift and they told him to go (home),” said Morris Azouz outside the main entrance of the residence.

Azzouz is a caregiver to his 92-year-old mother who lives there.

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Read more: Class action lawsuit against Quebec long-term care facilities approved

He pointed out that staff and family caregivers are also getting sick.

“Very overworked, they’re falling like flies,” he told Global News. “From what I understand, there are currently 16 staff members who are are out with COVID.”

In an email to families obtained by Global News, Maimonides confirms that figure and notes that six caregivers have also contracted the virus.

“Some of the staff (have) actually said to me that we don’t know what we would do without the paid caregivers or the family members to help us out,” said Azouz.

Joyce Shanks, whose father father also lives at Maimonides, said the staff is doing their best but she still has concerns.

“They don’t have enough staff to keep our parents and loved ones safe,” she noted.

She pointed out that the problem is systemic and blames the Quebec government.

In a letter to the provincial health minister Christian Dubé, the families are calling for help.

Among other things, they’re asking that the minister, “immediately engage a SWAT team or the Red Cross to compensate for staff shortages, institute weekly mandatory testing for all staff and all others entering the building, including caregivers and visitors.”

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They add, “Collectively, you claimed to have learned from mistakes made during the first wave. It is time to take those lessons learned and put them into practice in Maimonides and other CHSLDs across Quebec, before countless other vulnerable seniors suffer and die in long-term care.”

Read more: Long-term care patients in Quebec missing services due to lack of orderlies: union

One resident, Beverly Spanier, says she wants even more — to have the infected residents treated elsewhere.

“I believe it’s much safer when you’re in a nursing home,” she said in a phone call from her room, “to move the victims, the ones who have become ill, outside [the residence].”

In an email to Global News, the ministry addressed the issue of staffing in long-term care homes (CHLSD) as it pertains to orderlies, known as PAB in Quebec.

“As of November 11, 2020, we had a total of 6,798 CHSLD PAB hired. There are 6,641 people who have completed their training and are currently employed in CHSLDs. Other training cohorts will begin in the coming months and will train other CHSLD attendants to reach 3,000 more people.”

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The health board that overseas the care home has not yet replied to questions forwarded to them by Global News.

Families say they want the government to act more quickly to prevent a repeat of what happened during the first wave, when dozens died from the virus.

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