A family is speaking out after their 102-year-old mother died of COVID-19 less than one month after moving into a Winnipeg care home.
Pak Lee moved into Parkview Place in the summer. Until that point, she had lived on her own in her Winnipeg home.
Less than one month after moving into the care home, Lee contracted the disease.
“September 21 – that’s when I was informed she tested positive for COVID-19.” Lee’s son Albert told CTV News Tuesday.
He said the news came as a surprise because he was told his mother was not showing symptoms.
“Part of me thought maybe this won’t be the worst case,” said Albert, who lives in Mississauga, Ont.
“It was unexpected and a bit of a shock.”
Lee died on Oct. 6, 2020 – a few days shy of her 103rd birthday.
She was born in southeastern China and worked as a teacher. She came to Manitoba with her husband in the 1950s.
The couple ran a restaurant in Selkirk, before moving to Winnipeg with their two sons.
Albert said he has vivid memories of his mother helping Chinese immigrants settle in the city, including a young refugee.
“My mom took her in never having met her before,” he said. “(she) helped get her a job as a waitress.”
Lee is the tenth person to die at Parkview, which is the site of Manitoba’s largest personal care home outbreak.
The province said as of Tuesday, 84 infections have been linked to Parkview, 73 of which are among residents.
Under the current restrictions, Albert said he and his brother, who lives in Oregon, won’t be able to attend their mother’s funeral in person.
The funeral is scheduled for Thursday.
Albert said he would have liked more updates on his mother’s conditions.
In a statement Tuesday, a spokesperson for Revera, which owns Parkview, said, “Clinical staff will call a resident’s family contact to report on a positive test. They will then follow up to report on any symptoms or changes to the resident’s condition… The homes also send out more general email or automated message updates and keep families connected to their loved ones via video calls.”
NDP DEMANDS SENIORS’ ADVOCATE
As cases rise, so do concerns about the conditions inside long term care homes in Manitoba.
Manitoba’s official opposition party is calling for a seniors’ advocate, saying the move will improve transparency when it comes to inspections.
“This pandemic has shone a light on the way our seniors are being cared for and we have to do better,” said NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara at a news conference held outside Parkview Place on Tuesday.
The province said it is trying to speed up testing connected to outbreaks at personal care homes.
“Typically the health care workers and institutional outbreaks are prioritized,“ said chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin during Monday’s COVID-19 update.
In Albert’s view, the long term care home system needs an overhaul.
“It’s not just in Winnipeg, the disaster that happened in Quebec and Ontario, the whole approach to these long term care homes needs to be rethought.”
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