Family members with relatives in one of the city’s hardest hit care homes are speaking out about their concerns regarding care and communication amid COVID-19.
“I’m very worried not only for my mom but for all residents that [don’t] have a voice,” said Susan Goddard, whose 89-year-old mother is a resident at Madonna Community Care.
Goddard said she had been happy with her mom’s care until her mom’s COVID-19 diagnosis.
“From that point on quality of care changed, communication changed, everything changed,” she said.
“She said ‘so your mom’s positive now, so when can we discuss palliative care?’” Goddard said while recalling a conversation with someone from Madonna. “I think we should discuss caring for my mom first before we get the palliative care, trying to get over the COVID. She’s not dead. She’s still a person, she’s still my mom.”
Goddard’s mom has high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia. She says she was told her mom had a fever and needed oxygen. Goddard said she asked for her mom to be taken to the hospital if she needed more oxygen than the home could provide. She was taken to the Montfort Hospital.
Goddard said an emergency room doctor called her in the middle of a night with an update.
“She said ‘why’s your mom here?’ and I said the doctor in the nursing home sent her because she needed oxygen…and she said your mom’s oxygen level has been perfect.”
Goddard’s mom was then sent back to Madonna.
“They need a voice, they need honesty, they need clarity, we need communication,” Goddard said. “If you’re not reading the chart and you’re calling the child of a resident and telling her to make a decision like that without reading it, it makes me question a lot of things.”
In a statement Sienna Senior Living, the company that runs the home, says “as a normal course of action in long term care residents and families are asked to ensure end of life wishes are known and current.”
As of May 5, 30 residents at Madonna have died with at least 45 testing positive.
“There’s a lack of communication between the home and us as the family,” said Robert Brazeau.
Brazeau’s mother Jean and step-father John live at the home. John has tested positive for COVID-19.
“The director told us directly that they have no way of isolating people because they don’t have enough room,” Brazeau said.
Sienna Senior Living did not answer specific questions about isolation and said in a statement “the team is making every effort to communicate, as often as possible, with families about the health status of their loved one and the protocols in place and COVID-19 cases.”
For families, it hasn’t been enough.
“My mom already has a heart condition and all that. If she gets it we’re probably going to lose her and it just feels like they don’t care, nobody cares,” Brazeau said.
Extra resources have been called in to the home.
“The team is working extremely hard to care for and protect residents, and are tremendously grateful to have the extra support from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, the Royal Ottawa and The Ottawa Hospital, and Public Health who are working alongside us to provide additional staffing resources and expertise,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to seek additional assistance to help manage this extraordinary situation associated with COVID-19.”