MONTREAL -- After Penny Cohen’s mother died of COVID-19, Cohen went to collect her belongings at her long-term care home.

But the staff just handed her one thing: some plastic bags with pajamas and a few other clothes. That was all that was left, she says—all the items of value had disappeared, including her mom's wedding ring.

“It’s really unacceptable,” says Cohen. “They were entrusted with storing and securing my mother’s property after her death. Where did it go?”

Her mother, Delores Quinn Cohen, had been living at the Jewish Eldercare long-term care home when the lockdown began. The 84-year-old contracted the virus there.

Cohen was told at the time that her mother’s personal belongings would be locked in the basement until it was safe for her to come get them.

But when she finally got that call, barely anything was left.

“Three big oil paintings, cellphone, Videotron box, a landline phone, Blu-ray DVD player, her purse, money, jewellery,” she lists. An antique shelf and a wall clock, among many other things, were in her old room.

It wasn’t just about the monetary value, Cohen says. A lot of what’s missing has sentimental value—there were family photos, even her mother’s wedding ring.

Cohen insisted on going to her mother’s former room, where she found a few major items that had been left behind, with no one letting her know—her mom’s TV, refrigerator and dresser.

A nurse mentioned that she’d seen a couple of Cohen’s mothers things, including an antique plant stand, in another resident’s room, and they were retrieved.

Cohen, who was upset by then, says she was escorted by security out of the building. She filed a police report and a complaint with the ombudsman overseeing the home.

The Central-West regional health authority told CTV it cannot comment on individual cases for reasons of confidentiality. 

But it added that it asks residents not to have items of value in the Jewish Eldercare home at all.

“For our residents’ safety, there are no locks on the resident rooms at the Donald Berman Jewish Eldercare Centre,” wrote spokesman Barry Morgan in a statement.

“For this reason, we ask residents to refrain from bringing large amounts of cash or valuable items to the Centre, such as jewelry, cameras, artwork or any other expensive or highly sentimental item.”

He also said that residents’ families are asked to sign waivers absolving the centre of responsibility for any losses.

Cohen says it’s partly the home’s response during this time that’s made things difficult—it’s not returning her calls, she says.

She’s still hoping that someone will get in touch to say they have the photos and the other sentimental items. They mean more than they would even in normal times, Cohen says

“It’s bad enough that I couldn’t see my mother…couldn’t say goodbye to her or be with her when she passed and couldn’t even do a proper funeral,” she says. “It’s awful.”