Death toll rises at Transcona care home experiencing COVID-19 outbreak

NEAR OAKBANK — A Manitoba woman is remembering her aunt who died this week in a COVID-19 outbreak at a Transcona care home.

Park Manor has been hit hard by the virus in recent weeks.

Anne Kawecki, who was 96, is one of at least 13 people who’ve died.

Kawecki’s being remembered by her niece as a strong-willed person who loved animals.

Just before the pandemic hit, Candace Cook took her aunt to visit Craig Street Cats where they spent time with many of its inhabitants.

“That’s what I have left. We have lots of good memories,” Cook said in an interview outside her country home. “I used to bring her out here and let her drive my lawn tractor. Even though she was blind I would run alongside side her and tell her to turn left or turn right.”

The province announced Thursday two additional residents have died in the Park Manor outbreak, a man and a woman both in their eighties. 

Many more residents and staff members have been infected with COVID-19.

Kawecki had been a resident of Park Manor for the past two years.

She died Monday after testing positive for the disease around two weeks earlier.

“I was devastated,” said Cook. “I was very, very close to her. I have visited her and called her daily for almost seven years and if I was on the road I would even have friends go visit her in my place.”

She’s one of many relatives now grieving the loss of a loved one as COVID-19 continues to hit care homes hard, especially in Winnipeg. 

Most long-term care facilities in the city have now had outbreaks.

“It’s really concerning, once this virus gets introduced into the care homes,” Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer said Thursday. “And we see the tragic outcomes.”

In an update to families Park Manor said, there are 53 active cases among residents in the 100-bed facility and 25 active cases among staff. 

Park Manor CEO Abednigo Mandalupa told CTV News Winnipeg he was too busy Thursday to do an interview. 

Mandalupa shared information from an update he provided to families a day earlier. 

“Staffing continues to be a challenge but we are managing with support from the (Winnipeg Regional Health Authority) and staff that are working diligently to care for residents,” Mandalupa told families Dec. 9. “We have staff who are able to come back and work as soon as they are recovered.”

Cook plans on penning a letter to the premier and health minister.

She wants to know if more could’ve been done by the care home sooner to fight the outbreak.

“I think the staff, the aides—they’re doing the best they can,” said Cook. “I think they (the care home) should’ve called for help earlier.”

The outbreak at Park Manor care home was declared more than a month ago, on Nov. 5.

The WRHA said an onsite clinical lead has been at the care home since the week of Nov. 23, helping with the situation for more than two weeks.

Roussin said Thursday, care homes should continue to follow robust protocols put in place at the start of the pandemic.

He said public health will continue reinforce messaging around the use of universal personal protective equipment. 

Roussin said pilot projects are expected to be announced soon on routine surveillance testing in personal care homes.  

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