Calgary woman raises questions after mother dies of COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Questions raised about communication at Clifton Manor after mother dies of COVID-19'
Questions raised about communication at Clifton Manor after mother dies of COVID-19
WATCH ABOVE: A Calgary daughter is raising questions about communication at Clifton Manor after her mother died of COVID-19. As Christa Dao reports, the daughter claims she was never told her mother had contracted the virus – Dec 6, 2020

A Calgary woman is raising questions about communication at a long-term care home after her mother died of COVID-19, just two days after contracting the virus.

Kim Donovan’s mother Andrea Blue was a resident at Clifton Manor and contracted the virus on Sunday, Nov. 29.

The following day, Blue was transported to the South Health Campus Hospital. On Dec. 1, her condition deteriorated and she died in hospital at 1:10 p.m.

Donovan said she only received a phone call from a doctor on Monday — asking her if she wanted her mother transported to hospital.

“I have no idea why they were calling me for that information. They had taken her other times without my input and just let me know that that was where she was. So I said, ‘yes, take her to the hospital, take her now,'” she said.

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READ MORE: Alberta reports 19 COVID-related deaths and 1,836 new cases Sunday

Donovan said by the time she got to the hospital, her mother was unresponsive.

“She was already in an altered state and was not aware that I was even there — and that was it, until she died Tuesday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. without even being aware that I was there with her,” she said.

Donovan wants to know why staff only notified her after her mother’s condition worsened and about the decision around hospital transportation.

“I want to know why Clifton waited so long to get her there. She should have been taken so much sooner, so that maybe I would have had a chance to actually say something to her that she would have responded to,” she said.

READ MORE: Alberta doctor shares heartbreaking details on working the COVID-19 ward

Donovan describes her mother as an all-around genuine and kind person.

“She was really a better person than I could ever hope to be,” she said.

“We were always together, wildly different people, different personalities, different interests. But you know, I’d pretend to be interested in her soap opera and her cooking shows and she’d be pretending to be interested in my games or the next convention I was going to.”

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Donovan said she is sharing her story in hopes more people would take the virus seriously.

“She didn’t deserve this. Nobody deserves this. But she didn’t deserve this. She had a very, very hard life as a younger person. She deserved better than to go out like this gasping for air,” she said.

“We’re failing our elders. We’re not keeping them safe. We’re supposed to keep them safe.”

Clifton Manor Response

Mike Conroy, president and CEO of The Brenda Strafford Foundation, which operates Clifton Manor offered  condolences to Blue’s family. He said in an interview to Global News Sunday that their information shows the family was contacted on Sunday, Nov. 29.

“Our chart review indicates that communication is ongoing from the positive test results to discussions around hospital transfer,” Conroy said.

“We notify family on any type of times of positive case, when there’s a change in condition, if there’s a discharge to hospital and in anticipation of end of life for visitation reasons.”

READ MORE: Alberta health minister rejects suggestions province too lax with coronavirus restrictions

Conroy called containing the outbreak “very difficult” with the high community prevalence, and the risk to all continuing care sites.

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He said proactive work is being conducted through asymptomatic testing to try and get ahead of any viral spread.

“We’re probably finding more cases certainly than we would otherwise if we just waited for symptoms to develop. So over 80 per cent of the cases that we found so far are positive cases and residents and staff have been found through asymptomatic testing,” Conroy said.

“Where that’s important is people, if they’re asymptomatic, can still spread the virus, and that’s what’s happening in Clifton Manor.

“Also, Clifton Manor is an older site, smaller spaces, semi-private rooms, and it’s an area of the city where there’s a higher prevalence of the virus. All those things are impacting the site and making this a particularly challenging outbreak to manage.”

However, Donovan said she did not receive a phone call on Nov. 29, the day her mother contracted the virus.

A further statement from the Brenda Strafford Foundation said they are following up with the site’s management and nursing team to verify this further — and will follow up directly with the daughter to “resolve any potential misunderstandings.”   

As of Sunday, there were 33 active COVID cases among staff and 50 active cases among residents. A total of 11 residents have passed away due to the virus.

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When asked about tighter restrictions, Conroy said he would support a 14-day circuit breaker approach to getting the virus under control.

“I think (it) would be beneficial, and would actually benefit both the healthcare system and, in the near term, the economy,” he said.

“I’m just hopeful that we’re going to see a reversal in the trends and how this virus is increasing the community, (and) so we can offer all the protection that we`re desperately trying to do to our residents and our staff.”

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