Family speaks after father dies from COVID-19 at Almonte Country Haven

The family of Ross and Lois Richards says Ross Richards died at Almonte Country Haven after testing positive for COVID-19.

The daughter of a 79-year-old man who she says died from COVID-19 is speaking out about her father’s final days inside an Almonte long-term care home with the virus.

Debbie Cox says her mother and father, both 79, were living at the Almonte Country Haven where a serious outbreak of the novel coronavirus has been confirmed.

Management says at least 20 residents in the long-term care home have tested positive for the virus. Cox says she was told by staff that included both of her parents. 

Cox says last week she was called by staff at the care home to let her know her parents, Ross and Lois Richards, were both showing signs of COVID-19. She says they called again to let her know her father’s health was declining.

“They called and said dad’s fever has spiked and he wasn’t doing so well and they were going to put him on oxygen,” said Cox.

On Monday night, Cox says staff phoned to say her father had taken his last breath.

“I’m pretty upset and I’m frustrated,” she said. “It’s just so surreal that I put them in this one home in the Almonte area that has an outbreak.” 

Cox says her parents suffered from dementia but were both physically in good condition. She says her mother went into the care home in August and her father joined in December.

Staff say all of the residents are now in isolation at the home, but half live in a room with four other people.

Cox says she was told her mother is in isolation with three other women.

“They haven’t got anywhere to put them all. There’s no vacant rooms to take those confirmed cases and isolate them away from the other residents,” she said.

A care home employee says all departments are working to provide the best level of care to residents.

Due to the age of the care home Carolyn Della Foresta, who works as an administrator within the home, says space is limited. Della Foresta says privacy curtains are being used to work as a barrier.

Prior to the spread of the virus, Cox says she was waiting to place the couple together in a shared room but space was limited. She says the care home was able to place Ross Richards with three other men and Lois Richards with three other women in rooms that were across the hall.

Her husband Rick says prior to his father-in-law’s death, the couple was still on a wait list.

“We fought for two years to keep those people together – happy – and now they’re not,” he said.

The family is planning a modified funeral for Richards over the phone.

Debbie Cox says she is in touch with the home receiving updates on her mother’s condition.