Véronique Landry said she had found it difficult to get information about the condition of her grandmother, a resident at the Prescott and Russell Residence in Hawkesbury, since the outbreak last week. She said her family had received the most information from phone calls with the grandmother herself, who has since been moved to Hawkesbury General Hospital.
“Every day, we can hear her coughing more, having difficulty breathing,” she said. “She’s getting worse and worse every day and sadly, we can’t contact the staff, we don’t know what medications she’s on.”
Landry’s grandmother moved to the long-term care home on September 28 after a seven-month stint in hospital for pulmonary issues. As part of the move, Landry’s grandmother was tested twice for COVID, with both coming back negative, and was then placed into 14-day isolation.
A few days into the move, Landry said her grandmother complained of abdominal pain, which the family attributed to stress from the new surroundings. Those pains grew, however, into cold-like symptoms, then a fever and cough. Prior to any confirmed COVID cases at the facility, Landry said the family received a pre-recorded message stating that a respiratory condition had been detected at the home.
She said her father then tried to get in touch with staff, but was told not to call, and that the home would let them know if their relative’s situation deteriorated. A doctor called to confirm her grandmother’s positive COVID result, but Landry said she only learned the total number of confirmed cases from media reports.
Thirty-five positive cases were confirmed at the Prescott and Russell Residence as of Thursday afternoon. Those cases included 27 residents and eight employees. The first positive case at the home since the pandemic began was confirmed on Friday, October 9. Investigations are continuing into how the virus made it into the residence.
On Thursday, the family called an ambulance to take Landry’s grandmother to hospital after she called them and asked for help. Landry said she felt for the staff at the long-term care home, but the experience had been painful and frustrating for her family.
“One of my family members is a PSW and she knows what they’re going through, but we’re feeling helpless because we can’t get hold of them, we feel like we’ve been neglected,” she said. “A simple phone call, a daily update, would have been very much appreciated, just so we know what kind of care she’s receiving and her condition.”
In a statement, a United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) spokesperson said they could not discuss the details of residents due to privacy laws, but said the residence was following every protocol. “The Prescott and Russell Residence is currently managing a precarious situation involving the first COVID-19 outbreak at the facility,” they said.
“This situation requires around-the-clock undivided attention on the 132 residents presently at the long-term care facility, as well as the more than 160 employees providing care to them. We can assure that the Prescott and Russell Residence is following every protocol regarding both the outbreak and its regular operations, including communications protocols, in accordance with the directives and policies of the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care.”
When the first case was confirmed, UCPR said the “safety and comfort of our residents and staff remains our top priority.” Plans had been made to adapt to the absence of staff who were either isolating or had tested positive to the virus.
Landry said her family had started to fear they would not see her grandmother again. “We were concerned back in March that we wouldn’t be able to see her during her final hours,” she said. “We were starting to feel the same way because we couldn’t be there with her during this ordeal in this really new environment for her.
“We’re just praying that we’ll be able to see her again.”