Montreal — Quebec coroners investigating deaths in geriatric care facilities during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic deserve to respect the working conditions they endured, not negligence. Guaranteed to healthcare professionals.
“Reassure that the coroner’s office does not blame the medical staff,” said coroner Géhane Kamel. “And each individual who goes to work, whether CHSLD (long-term care facility) or hospital, is nothing but gratitude and respect from us.”
The comment is that the workers who treated the inhabitants at Residence Heron endured the situation and treated the inhabitants as best as possible depending on the situation, but asked the staff who pointed to what to do. I came as a witness that I had finished my testimony. To them as if they killed the patient.
The coroner tried to reassure the Witnesses and noted that her final report included observations about their working conditions.
Camel’s mission is to investigate 53 deaths in six care facilities and one elderly home (including Heron’s 47) during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, Heron’s frontline staff during the first wave spoke in tears about the effects of their distress and staff shortage.
Some were infected with COVID-19 and others were hospitalized for a week.
Another told the cause of death hearing how she washed the deceased resident and changed it to give him some dignity. Another said that so many residents were unclean. This is something she has never experienced in her long career.
One witness said, “The bell didn’t stop ringing,” and didn’t know where to go. Employees were overwhelmed as many colleagues quit their jobs ill or isolated due to contact with positive cases. Others were simply scared.
Staff testified that there was a shortage of masks and stated that a single mask had to be worn throughout the shift. There was also a shortage of towels for residents and diapers for adults.
Even before the pandemic, witnesses said Heron had problems hiring and retaining staff and had a turnover among nursing teams.