A 63-year-old health-care aide who worked at a retirement home in Sherwood Park has died from COVID-19, according to their union.
Rose Vandelannoite was infected with the disease in December and succumbed to COVID-19 complications on Jan. 10 at the University of Alberta Hospital after fighting the coronavirus for five weeks.
Vandelannoite is the fourth health-care worker to die from COVID-19, but she is being remembered by family and friends as more than just a number.
“I just want people to know that she is a health-care hero,” Kelsey Torkelson, her daughter said.
Torkelson said her mother looked after seniors throughout the pandemic, even though the personal risk for her was high. Vandelannoite had both asthma and diabetes.
“She just really wanted to help, and at the end of the day, it ended up taking her life,” Torkelson said.
“I didn’t lose only a coworker. I lost a sister,” fellow health-care aide Nanou Suamy said.
A total of four Alberta health-care workers have now been killed by COVID-19, prompting a call for change.
“This needs to end,” Ann Waller, the Liuna Local 3000 Union president, said. “Enough is enough. Health-care workers are not a disposable commodity.”
Unions are demanding government mandated pay for health-care staff who have to stay at home and isolate because of COVID-19.
The union also believes Vandelannoite contracted the disease at work, even though her coworkers said she took all the precautions against COVID-19 and ensured others did too.
“It’s real. She always advised everyone,” Suamy said.
Vandelannoite’s daughter hopes that advice will resonate with more people inside and outside the retirement home.
“Maybe with my mom’s passing, it will create more awareness in the workplace,” Torkelson said.
A fundraiser has been set up by Liuna Local 3000 to cover Vandelannoite’s funeral costs.