A 60-year-old Windsor health care worker was among those who recently died related to COVID-19, Unifor announced Saturday.
In a news release, Unifor said its Local 2458 and the wider community began the New Year mourning the health care worker and union member Sheila Yakovishin.
“On behalf of our union, I express the deepest condolences to Sheila’s family and all those who knew and loved her. Unifor mourns with you, as we decry her preventable death,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.
Yakovishin died on Dec. 31.
She worked at a downtown long-term care home for more than 30 years.
Unifor says the home has experienced a “severe” outbreak of COVID-19 with 82 residents and 38 staff having tested positive for the virus.
“These rising statistics of infections among workers in Windsor’s for-profit LTC centres are more than numbers. They are people like Sheila, with full lives to live, people who deserve like we all do, to come home safe from work,” said Tullio DiPonti, President of Unifor Local 2458.
DiPonti said Yakovishin was a good person, who took care of her residence and was a good person to work alongside.
"The unfortunate part is this COVID disease took her life away," he said. "It’s sickening, it’s sad and this government needs to do something about it.”
Unifor says it has long campaigned for the end of for-profit long-term care in the province and across Canada.
As of Sunday, there are 20 long-term care homes in Windsor-Essex with COVID-19 outbreaks.
“We thought that these owners, this government would be prepared to make sure that the residence and staff stay safe but obviously it’s not the case," DiPonti said.
Berkshire Care Centre executive director Erica Hooker said in an email to CTV News, she was saddened to share the news of Yakovishin’s sudden death. While the official cause of her death is currently unknown, Hooker said, she was off work having tested positive for COVID-19.
“I had the privilege of knowing and learning from Sheila for 12 years. I will miss her persistent optimism and friendly hellos the most. She could always tell when someone was feeling down and needed cheering up. We will remember her most for the smiles she gave to so many when they needed it,” Hooker said.
She said Yakovishin was a personal support worker at the home for nearly 32 years and was a “beloved” member of the community and family there.
“Despite having other health issues Sheila always persevered and put the care of others before her own,” Hooker said. “She had a giant heart, and it showed each and every day in the care and support that she provided to residents and to her colleagues.”
Hooker said staff at the home are grieving the loss and a grief counsellor has been offered to support staff and residence. The home is also hoping to find an “appropriate” way to celebrate Yakovishin’s life at Berkshire and will be working out details with the family.
- With files from CTV Windsor's Angelo Aversa