Calling in the military should be on the table after ‘sickening’ events at Maples PCH: Winnipeg mayor

Winnipeg’s mayor is calling on the provincial government to consider all options — including calling in the military — to help at Maples Personal Care Home after city ambulance crews were called to the facility 18 times over 24 hours this weekend.

Within the care home, seven have died from COVID-19 since Friday and one other person who was near the end of their life died from natural causes, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said at a rare weekend press conference.

Read more: Coronavirus: Homicide Unit investigating Maples Personal Care Home deaths, after emergency crews on scene

At least 22 patients, however, have died of COVID-19 since the virus infiltrated the personal care home less than two weeks ago and Global News has learned that Winnipeg police are investigating to determine if residents received adequate care or if there was a failure to provide the necessities of life.

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“The events of the last few days at Maples Personal Care Home, as we’ve come to learn, can only really be described as sickening,” said Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman at a Monday morning press conference.

The province needs to be more proactive in planning than it has been so far, Bowman said.

“I would say to the province, they should be considering all options, including the military, to provide the assistance that they clearly need.”

Click to play video 'Maples long-term care families react to COVID-19 outbreak: ‘I can’t let my dad die in there’' Maples long-term care families react to COVID-19 outbreak: ‘I can’t let my dad die in there’

Maples long-term care families react to COVID-19 outbreak: ‘I can’t let my dad die in there’

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief John Lane laid out an overview of a busy weekend for paramedics at the care home Monday, which started with the first 911 call from the facility at 7:10 p.m. Friday.

He said a paramedic unit attended and took one patient to hospital in stable condition, but just two minutes later “several 911 calls were received simultaneously” for “moderately ill patients” at Maples.

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Read more: Coronavirus: Homicide Unit investigating Maples Personal Care Home deaths, after emergency crews on scene

“The platoon chief of paramedic operations quickly realized that this was unusual and contacted both the Maples and the WRHA — the executive on call — to evaluate the situation,” said Lane, who said another paramedic unit and a district chief of paramedic operations were sent to perform an onsite assessment.

“Those three individuals assessed a total of 10 additional patients and finished their work at the Maples on Saturday morning at approximately 2 a.m.”

Click to play video 'Winnipeg police homicide unit investigating Maples Personal Care Home' Winnipeg police homicide unit investigating Maples Personal Care Home

Winnipeg police homicide unit investigating Maples Personal Care Home

In all, three additional patients were taken to hospital from Friday into Saturday, Lane said, including one in critical condition and two in stable, Lane said. Seven others were treated at the scene with either IV fluids or oxygen therapy.

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He said the district chief decided to treat patients at the home because if all had been taken to hospital it “would have overwhelmed our resources in the fire paramedic service, it would have overwhelmed the receiving hospitals, and quite potentially, (it) could have spread COVID unnecessarily through other locations.”

Read more: 69 residents at Maples Personal Care Home test positive for COVID-19

Lane says an ambulance was stationed at the personal care home until Sunday morning to act as a rapid response team and help with primary care of residents.

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On Saturday night, Lane said paramedics assessed 12 patients, including five who required treatment at the scene and two who needed to be taken to hospital.

Click to play video 'Families worry as deaths continue at Maples Personal Care Home' Families worry as deaths continue at Maples Personal Care Home

Families worry as deaths continue at Maples Personal Care Home

Overnight Sunday into Monday, Lane says nine patients were assessed, five were treated at the scene, and three needed to be taken to hospital.

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While Lane said there were no “negative impacts” to ambulance service across this weekend, he warned that may not always be the case.

“If we move into a … mode where we are beginning to queue calls again, we will have to remove the ambulance from that location to attend high-priority calls.”

Lane said the WFPS is working with the care home and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to provide resources through the week before “handing care of the patients in the Maples centre to either the Canadian Red Cross or other appropriate agencies by the end of the week.”

Click to play video 'Care home anxiety' Care home anxiety

Care home anxiety

Last week the province confirmed it had called in the Canadian Red Cross at both Maples and Parkview Place Personal Care Home, the site of another deadly COVID-19 outbreak in Winnipeg.

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The Red Cross is expected to move into both facilities by Friday.

Read more: Red Cross called in to help at Winnipeg personal care homes as coronavirus cases mount

Parkview Place Long Term Care Home and Maples Personal Care Home — both run by the private company Revera — said they’re working with the Red Cross and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority on a plan “to provide additional staffing resources to support the residents with delivery of meals, recreation activities and companionship, maintaining isolation in rooms.”

While Lane stopped short of saying the military is needed at Maples, Bowman said the province needs to look at all options — including the military

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Tighter restrictions coming to southern Manitoba' Coronavirus: Tighter restrictions coming to southern Manitoba

Coronavirus: Tighter restrictions coming to southern Manitoba

“We’ve been there this week and we will react when that planning and the resources clearly haven’t been enough — and there clearly haven’t been lessons learned from other provinces, that quite frankly should have been,” Bowman said.

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“I would urge them to consider all options to make sure that they can get the resources in place to do what clearly needs to be done right now.”

Read more: Investigation to launch into Maples long-term care deaths: Manitoba health minister

Over the weekend Gina Trinidad, the WRHA’s chief operating officer of long-term care, said there are no plans to deploy the military.

On Sunday, Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen said he has called for an immediate investigation at Maples Personal Care Home.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Health minister’s comments ‘outrageous,’ says Winnipeg doctors' Coronavirus: Health minister’s comments ‘outrageous,’ says Winnipeg doctors

Coronavirus: Health minister’s comments ‘outrageous,’ says Winnipeg doctors

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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