MONTREAL -- A Grace Dart Extended Care Centre orderly who died of causes related to COVID-19 was remembered as a caring person and loving mother by colleagues.

"She was amazing," said nurse assistant Valerie Verret. "She was kind of the mother of Grace Dart. She spent her life working here."

Victoria Salvan was an elder care worker at the Grace Dart Extended Care Centre, who immigrated to Canada from the Phillipines, and worked with seniors for over 25 years. She had two adult sons, and stopped working just over a week ago when she came down a fever.

She was found dead in her home on Friday.

"I'm mad and I'm sad and I'm disgusted by what happened to her. She shouldn't have died like this alone," said Verret.

One Grace Dart worker who didn't want to be identified said Salvan didn't have adequate protective gear. 

"If she had a mask, gloves and jacket, it could have saved her life," they said. "Since March, we don't have no equipment, they don't want to give us masks. They don't want to give us jackets to go into the red zone to work with people who have COVID."

A spokesperson for the regional health authority denied that allegation, saying workers do have enough protective gear. 

On Saturday, the union representing Grace Dart employees released a statement confirming the orderly's death.

“The employee worked at CHSLD Grace Dart and had more than 25 years of experience,” said CUPE 2281 President Jonathan Deschamps. “Our thoughts are above all with her family and colleagues and we convey our sincere condolences to them.”

“In the most difficult circumstances, she was devoted to the residents and their fate was dear to her. In recent times, she worked several additional shifts to meet their basic needs.”

Grace Dart has been the site of a large COVID-19 outbreak. On Saturday, the CIUSSS-West said 62 residents have been confirmed to have the virus, as well as 18 staff members. Employees have complained of chronic understaffing dating back to before the pandemic while families have said their loved ones have been endangered by a lack of planning for the pandemic.

One of Salvan's sons told La Presse that she cared deeply for the elders in her care working overtime up to her final days of work due to understaffing at Grace Dart.

On Thursday, management said a 'red zone' for COVID-positive residents would finally be established, though it would take days to fully implement.

In a statement issued Saturday, the regional health board said it is "applying all safety measures" and that all Grace Dart employees would be tested for COVID-19 on Monday.

"We learned with great sadness of the death of a CHSLD Grace Dart beneficiary attendant. We offer our condolences to her family and loved ones," they said. "We are also aware that this is a difficult event for our co-workers and we have deployed teams to support them. The occupational health and safety team is on site. Our head of the Psychiatry Department, Dr. Gustavo Turecki, is also present as well as the Employee Assistance Program team."