MONTREAL – Quebec’s coroner investigated deaths in elderly care homes during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and assured health workers that they were not at fault and that they deserve respect for working conditions.
“Be assured that the coroner’s office does not place the blame on health care workers,” said coroner Gehen Kamel. “And for every person who goes to work, whether in a CHSLD (long-term care home) or hospital, we have nothing but thanks and respect.”
The comments came as a witness, a worker who treated residents at Residence Heron, ended his testimony by asking what would be done for the staff who tolerated the situation and treated residents best. As they could given the circumstances but pointed the finger at them as if they would let the patients die.
The coroner sought to reassure the witness, taking into account his final report, would include comments on his working conditions.
Kamel’s mandate is to investigate 53 deaths at six long-term care homes and one senior residence, including 47 in Heron, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, front-line workers in Heron during the height of the first wave recounted their distress and the impact of staff shortages, testifying in tears.
Some ended up with COVID-19 themselves and one spent a week in the hospital.
Another told interrogation how he washed and changed a dead resident to pay some respect. Another reported that so many residents were dirty, something she had never experienced in her long career.
One witness said “the bell didn’t stop” and didn’t know where to turn. Employees were overwhelmed as many colleagues had left jobs, either sick or in isolation because they had come in contact with a positive case. Others were just scared.
Employees testified that there was a shortage of masks and said that they were required to wear the same mask throughout the shift. There was also a shortage of towels and adult diapers for residents.
Even before the pandemic, Heron had problems recruiting and keeping staff, and there was turnover among the nursing team, witnesses said.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times