MONTREAL -- Mario Boccardi, 79, died while in hospital after being diagnosed with COVID-19. After facing strict visitation rules during his final days, a Montreal family is mourning the death of its patriarch. 

“He was our pillar,” his daughter Cristina Boccardi said. “He did what he had to do to raise his family. He really gave his all, he was a very selfless man.”

Mario Boccardi lived with Parkinson’s for 20 years, but was recently diagnosed with cancer. He was admitted to Santa Cabrini Hospital.

At the hospital, he tested positive for COVID-19. From that point on, according to his daughter, the level of care was inadequate. She says that, at one point, he went nearly an entire day without his medication.

“They knew he was COVID positive. They just put him in that room and it was like 'goodbye',” Boccardi said. “My dad had to be put in palliative care, not in isolation. We all knew he was dying of cancer.”

Since late December, hospital visits have been restricted. In Boccardi’s case, the family says they were told no visitors could enter at all.

His daughter says she managed to convince security to allow her mother in.

“I begged and begged,” Boccardi said.

The regional health authority wouldn’t comment on a specific case, but says no visitors are admitted to hot zones. A patient is also not admitted to palliative care if they are positive.

Cristina says just a couple of hours before her father died, three family members were allowed in, but her father was unresponsive.

“At some point something needs to change,” Michael Ortika, his grandson, said. “This is very unacceptable.”