Physical rehabilitation centre responsible for Holocaust survivor's COVID-19 infection: family

Multiple COVID-19 cases have been detected in a Cote-des-Neiges physical rehabilitation centre and at least one family member is accusing the facility of not doing enough to keep residents safe from infection.

Sharon Zelikovic said her 92-year-old Holocaust survivor mother, Helen Slomovik, was transferred to the Gingras-Lindsay Readaptation Centre weeks after undergoing surgery at the Jewish General Hospital for a hip injury suffered in a fall in early March.

Zelikovic said the week of April 20, her mother received a new roommate. The next day, her mother called her and said “That poor woman was coughing all night.”

Zelikovic said her mother shared the room with the woman for several days. After the new roommate tested positive for COVID-19, her mother was moved to another room. On April 29, Slomovik also tested positive.

“How did they bring in this new patient and stick her in a room with a 92-year-old woman without quarantining her first?” said Zelikovic.

A spokesperson for the regional health authority said they wouldn't comment on individual cases due to privacy concerns but in an email to CTV News, the regional health authority said numerous protective protocols have been implemented at Gingras-Lindsay. They said since March 17, newly admitted residents have been isolated in their rooms and staff have been wearing full personal protective equipment.

While the health authority said residents have been supplied with iPads to stay in touch with loved ones and that “If necessary, the user's family can also ask to speak to the program manager who could also be a caregiver.”

However, Zelikovic said she could not reach her mother after she was transferred to the other room.

“Nobody ever called me or even discussed anything or communicated with me at all,” she said. “When I went on the website to make a complaint, there was no English form available for me to send it.”

On April 30, Zelikovic said her mother was sent back to the Jewish General.

“She started having trouble breathing so they put her on oxygen. They told me she has a UTI and the next day they called me and told me they're treating her for the UTI and pneumonia,” said Zelikovic. “I spoke to her and she could hardly talk because she can't catch her breath.”

On Sunday, Slomovik passed away. 

Zelikovic said she holds Gingras-Lindsay responsible for her mother's illness.

“I would say they are responsible for my mother getting COVID and they were negligent for putting this patient into her room without quarantining her,” she said.

“HELL OR HIGH WATER”

A resident who asked to remain anonymous said they're unable to leave due to a lack of access to other means of physical therapy. They said a nurse who was treating them has been diagnosed with COVID-19 despite wearing personal protective equipment. They said they've been confined to their room for several weeks and have been receiving minimal treatment.

In the email, the health authority said patients have been receiving treatment in their rooms.

“Some users in isolation receive treatment in the room with dedicated equipment and all PPE. Those in the hot zone have a gymnasium reserved for them. The others can go to the regular premises,” they said.

The patient said the atmosphere in the facility was that staff were trying to get residents out of the facility, whether they were physically ready or not.

“Their objective is to get me out next Wednesday, come hell or high water,” they said. When the patient raised objections, they said they were told staff disagreed.

“They know I won't be able to get outpatient care,” they said.

The patient said several people on their floor have been transferred to hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.

The regional health authority confirmed that five patients had been transferred from Gingras-Lindsay to hospital due to COVID-19 and that of the 10 beds set aside for COVID-positive residents, seven were occupied as of Friday.

Thirteen staff members have tested positive for the virus.

According to the regional health authority, 104 patients were admitted to Gingras-Lindsay as of Friday.

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