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Cliff hasn't seen his roommate at Parkview Place in a week and isn't sure how the senior who tested positive for COVID-19 is making out these days.

Staff members told him that information was none of his business.

"I haven't seen him since I was moved out (of that room). They moved me right away," the resident of the long-term care facility on Edmonton Street said Wednesday. He didn't want his last name used. "(The former roommate) is still here, as far as I know. Other people on my floor were getting (sick), too. I'm not sure of numbers, I just know a lot of people were infected.

"It's pretty hectic around here. It's been scary, of course. But no matter where you are nowadays, it's scary."

Eleven people have died at Parkview Place care home where there has been about 106 total cases, including 27 sick staff members. (John Woods / WInnipeg Free Press files)

Eleven people have died at Parkview Place care home where there has been about 106 total cases, including 27 sick staff members. (John Woods / WInnipeg Free Press files)

Cliff spoke to the Free Press just an hour before public health officials confirmed the province's 43rd death due to COVID-19. It was a Winnipeg man in his 80s, a resident of Parkview, the centre of the deadliest outbreak of any long-term care home in Manitoba since the start of the pandemic.

That raises the death count to 11 residents at the downtown care home, where there has been a total of 106 cases, including 27 staff members. 

As of Wednesday, there were 47 active cases among residents and 17 active cases among staff (who are self-isolating at home), said Dr. Rhonda Collins, chief medical officer for Revera, a private for-profit company that owns and operates Parkview.

"The passing of a resident was confirmed by the province (Wednesday). The team at Parkview Place offers their most sincere condolences to the family and friends of this resident, and the (10) other people we have lost to the pandemic," said Collins, in a statement provided to the Free Press.

Cliff, who has tested negative twice, said he asked a worker just days ago if anyone from the care facility he calls home had died.

Signs on the door at Parkview Place personal care home in Winnipeg warn people of the hazards inside. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Signs on the door at Parkview Place personal care home in Winnipeg warn people of the hazards inside. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

"I actually asked that question and was told it's confidential, so they aren't telling us everything. There's been problems here but I don't know anything that's going on," he said.

Cliff said he moved in August from Misericordia Health Centre to Parkview, and had only complimentary things to say about his caregivers.

"They are (short-staffed) but they're doing their best to get things back to normal. I guess some employees are calling in sick. It's been hard on everybody. Everybody from management down, it's on everybody's mind, for sure. They're doing their best, disinfecting things every day, following protocol, like the laws and stuff."

Cliff was outside getting some air just before 11 a.m. when he was approached for the interview, which was interrupted by a Parkview worker who politely asked this reporter to leave the area.

Earlier, a man parked his car in front of Parkview, turned on his blinkers and walked up to the barricade at the facility's front doors. It's the second time in three weeks he's called ahead to let the place that cares for his elderly mother know he was coming.

But he wasn't there for a visit with his mom on this day. Paul, who asked that his last name not be used, said he stopped in a week ago to drop off an extra phone charger and was back to pick it up.

While the two speak on the phone at least twice a day, there has been no in-person visit in October, not since the facility put up signs warning about a second COVID-19 outbreak since April.

His mother survived a stroke about 12 years ago and was living in a downtown apartment not far from Parkview, aided by home care. However, she began experiencing seizures in the early summer and was moved into the long-term care facility in August.

"Back then, the cases in the province were low and we didn't hear about any problems with this place," he said. "Since I was visiting her every day, I was going to be able to monitor things and I was comfortable with that. She was treated very well here, good meals, friendly staff. I never expected it to get so out of hand like this. Nobody did."

Paul said he showed up just over three weeks ago and was barred from entering.

"The place was under lockdown and that was the scary part. That's tough," he said. "I heard from the news first and then there was a call left on my phone, like a robo-call kind of thing. But they are communicating regularly with me now, letting me know what's going on. It was hard because some days I couldn't talk to her at all. They couldn't take her to the phone because it's a central phone and they didn't want to move people out of their rooms.

"I'm the only person that she can talk to. My mom doesn't speak much English, so I'm the only one. The cellphone now is good. But I do worry about her mental well-being. She's very sharp and she knows there is a problem here. It's still a very dangerous place, I'm sure."

One resident says staff are disinfecting every day and following protocol. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press files)

One resident says staff are disinfecting every day and following protocol. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister was asked Wednesday morning at a press briefing if he'd feel comfortable placing a loved one in Parkview's care.

He noted that his parents have died, and said he cares deeply about seniors.

"When I hear about Parkview and other seniors homes having these outbreaks, it breaks my heart," he responded.

"I know that the staff are working very, very hard. I know that public health officials have been working co-operatively with them to address concerns and I know that family members are absorbing a lot of additional responsibilities and stress right now, too. I am totally sympathetic with that. We're doing everything we can to address these issues and we will continue to."

Collins's statement echoed those sentiments.

She said Revera is working closely with Winnipeg Regional Health Authority public health officials to implement pandemic outbreak protocols and enhanced infection-control practices.

"All residents are monitored for symptoms twice daily. Staff are screened at the beginning and end of their shifts. All staff continue to wear the indicated PPE which includes an appropriate mask, gloves and eye protection in the home when in contact with residents," said Collins.

"We are doing enhanced cleaning at Parkview Place, disinfecting high-touch surfaces like handrails and doors, resident rooms, common areas and staff rooms more frequently."

All residents are monitored for symptoms twice daily and staff are screened at the beginning and end of their shift, says the chief medical officer for Revera, the company that owns and operates Parkview. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

All residents are monitored for symptoms twice daily and staff are screened at the beginning and end of their shift, says the chief medical officer for Revera, the company that owns and operates Parkview. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Free Press spoke outside briefly with one Parkview health-care worker, who was adamant the facility is operating in a conscientious and compassionate manner, under very trying circumstances.

"Things happen. It's a pandemic, so the important thing is to stay cool. That's all I can say," the staff member said. "The (residents) understand what is going on, and the ones that don't, well, there's nothing to say."

The worker expressed no apprehension as another long shift at the facility was about to begin. "I have not been nervous going in, no," the person said, adding there is sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) at Parkview.

During his media briefing, the Manitoba premier admonished the federal government for an initial PPE shortfall in Manitoba.

"Ninety-five per cent of our PPE challenges have been faced in this province by our government. We didn't get a lot of support despite early promises from the feds. They deal with it," said Pallister.

"We're continuing to focus on making sure, with the help and support of mostly Manitoba businesses, that we get our PPE out there to people."

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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