Coroner's inquiry into Quebec long-term care deaths, starting with Herron, to begin this month

Nearly a year later, Quebecers are set to get some deeper answers about the horrific events of last spring, when news broke of deplorable conditions and COVID-19 deaths at long-term care homes.

A coroner’s inquiry starting later this month will begin with the Herron facility in Dorval.

Peter Wheeland, whose parents lived at Herron, says he’s bracing himself for a lot of bad news beyond that facility, which became infamous early in the pandemic and created a red flag about how COVID-19 was being handle across Quebec.

“I think Herron was just the proverbial tip of the iceberg,” said Wheeland.

“There are certainly some horrible things that were happening in Herron because of understaffing, but it wasn’t the only place.”

Those who witnessed those events from inside the home are still reeling from it, they said.

Loredana Mule, a nurse who worked there for a single shift on March 29, said it’s a deeply painful memory.

“We were just scattered, running from one room to another, trying to feed them,” she said.

“It was horrific for me. It scared the hell out of me thinking that these are paying so much money to get the care and they weren’t getting anything at all.”

Herron is now in the process of closing, with the surviving residents being moved out. But families of residents there in the last year hope the inquiry will provide answers about how things went so wrong.

The inquiry is also meant to recomment changes as to how all such homes are run.

“We will all feel better once there’s answers to all this, whether our parents are still around or whether our parents have passed,” said Patrizia Di Biase, the daughter of a Herron resident.

“I think we have to make sure that if there is a private component of an elderly health-care system, that it’s much more closely monitored by the public system,” said Wheeland.

Montreal police said their investigation into the situation is complete and has been handed over to the Crown prosecutors’ office.

The inquest begins Feb. 15, and the report is set to be released in the fall.

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