The Quebec coroner’s inquiry was heard Thursday as tensions over who was in charge at the privately-owned Residence Heron care home last year caused the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving residents and their families on edge.
Coroner Gehen Kamel heard from Heron’s staff that the regional health authority and the residence’s manager were not on the same page as they attempted to address staffing issues, building access and equipment shortages.
Kamel said the testimony was creating the impression that “the Heron people stayed in their offices, that the[regional health authority]remained in their offices, and that, while there are small procedural fights, there are people who are dying.” “
After requests for help and equipment, regional health officials arrived in Heron on March 29, 2020, but the question of who was in charge over the next two weeks remains up in the air.
Tina Petinichi, who was responsible for sales at Heron before the pandemic hit, ended up helping management when the situation became dire.
The first confirmed COVID-19 case in the household was on March 27. Front-line workers quickly began to fall ill, and due to the pressure on the entire network, it was difficult to find replacement workers.
Some Heron workers told Petinichi they were afraid, and many were asked to quarantine for 14 days. Dr. Nadine Larante, one of the health authority officials who came to help on March 29, was asked to speak to the kitchen staff, who were afraid to distribute trays of food to patients.
Petinichi said he distributed trays to several residents that evening, but said he didn’t notice the sticky floors and dirty patients as testified by other witnesses. “I didn’t see anything that was similar to what was described in the media,” Petinichi said.
Kamel thought of different views of the situation, noting that Larente considered the situation so bad that she called her husband and children for help.
“The perception of what’s happening in this establishment is like night and day, it’s like two completely different realities,” Kamel said.
Petinichi would stay until April 10, and she said there were a lot of communication issues – the care home’s three doctors had trouble reaching the nurses, and families often complained they didn’t get any information. He was told that no information or message could be sent to families without the approval of the health authority.
“The families were extremely worried. Disappointed at not having some information. They were living out these feelings,” Petinichi said, recalling a dying resident’s visit when the family asked him to say goodbye to them.
“A million things were happening at the same time,” Petinichi said. “I was overwhelmed by what was going on.” She said she doesn’t think the health authority has any plans for Heron.
Earlier on Thursday, the last of three doctors caring for residents in Heron testified that he would continue until April 11 because of a provincial directive in favor of telemedicine for long-term care patients and a serious shortage of protective equipment. Stayed away from residence. Place.
Dr Adriana Ionescu testified that the situation was “crazy” as she attempted to remotely manage patients in various facilities.
Three doctors entered Heron in the outbreak for the first time in the day, after a media report detailing multiple deaths and deteriorating conditions. She said things started to turn when health officials took charge.
Ionescu described this period as the most difficult in his medical career.
Later, a health authority nurse who came to help manage Heron for a few weeks starting April 3, said she was unable to make the schedule because owners were having trouble finding personnel. Some of the people sent by agencies to serve as orderlies had no experience working in long-term care.
There were difficulties in obtaining personal protective equipment and even keys to locked rooms at Heron, which he said refused to give up ownership until a health authority manager intervened.
The nurse, who cannot be named, was suffocated as she described how residents were denied seeing their loved ones, suggesting the government should have eased restrictions.
The coroner’s mandate is to investigate 53 deaths – including 47 in Heron – at six long-term care homes and a senior citizens’ residence during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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