Delay on re-admitting caregivers to residences has families frustrated
Published Sunday, April 19, 2020 10:45PM EDT Last Updated Monday, April 20, 2020 3:20PM EDT
MONTREAL -- Families of long-term care home residents said they're frustrated that the Quebec government hasn't lived up to its promise of allowing caregivers back into the facilities.
David Maiello is the primary caregiver to his 98-year-old mother. While Maiello used to make a daily trek from Ile-Perrot to the Plateau to feed her her favourite Italian food, he said he's hasn't been allowed into her nursing home for over a month.
On Wednesday, Maiello's mother was diagnosed with COVID-19.
“You can't imagine it, it's so hard,” he said. “It's a mom that did so much for all of us, all the family and now with this coronavirus, we can't even speak to her or see her.”
Last week, the province announced it would allow caregivers back into homes, but clarified a day later that caregivers must be tested. That position was later walked back yet again, with the new directive saying they must be asymptomatic. On Tuesday, public health director Horacio Arruda said caregivers would have to test negative for COVID-19 and follow hygiene measures.
Maiello said while he has no symptoms, the fact he's asymptomatic also means he can't get tested.
The Quebec health and seniors' ministries said the decision to allow caregivers to get tested would be up to individual regional health boards.
“It's not the time now to have bureaucracy,” said Maiello. “Procrastination is a death sentence.”
Annetta Black, the caregiver to her 84-year-old father, is in a similar situation.
Her father resides in Cote-St-Luc's Maimonides residence. She said she tried to get tested but was also refused, even after trying to get a referral through a doctor.
“(My father) says, 'Where are you, why aren't you coming, where's mum?' and I'm like 'Hang on another day,'” she said. “His situation is so tenuous, he could die at any moment.”
Montreal health officials said re-admitting caregivers will happen gradually, with different rules across the city, depending on the situation in particular centres.
Maiello said that adds another layer of bureaucratic confusion as he tries to see his mother.
“She's so vulnerable,” he said.