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‘I am haunted by their cries’: Bradford Valley staff member describes final moments with dying resident

'The desperation in their (family members') voices - just to have that final contact with their grandmother and their mom - was something I’ve never heard or seen before'
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Bradford Valley Care Community. File photo

It's been a 'heart-breaking' rollercoaster of emotions for residents, family members and staff at Bradford Valley Care Community long-term care home, where a coronavirus outbreak was declared on April 4. 

To date, there have been at least six confirmed deaths at the facility.

One of the residents passed away on Sunday with three staff members by her side. 

"Today was the most heartbreaking day in all my years working as a PSW," said a staff member who requested anonymity. 

She and two co-workers had to FaceTime with the dying resident's family members to let them say their final goodbyes, she said.

The staff member said the virus had "snuck up" on the resident and the family wasn't expecting her to pass so soon.

"Listening to the cries of the daughter calling out to her mother was devastating - just calling her mother over and over again, telling her 'I love you, I wish I was there.' It was simply heartbreaking," she said.

After calling the daughter, staff called the woman's two grandchildren who "sobbed like babies" as they said goodbye to their grandmother, letting her know how much they loved her.  

"The desperation in their (family members') voices - just to have that final contact with their grandmother and their mom - was something I’ve never heard or seen before. I am haunted by their cries."

The Bradford Valley employee said one of the hardest parts for the staff was keeping their own emotions in check for the family's sake. 

"We tried so hard not to let them hear us sobbing," she said. 

"The only part that made us smile, as the three of us sobbed at the bedside of this dying lady while we listen to her family's heartbreak, was a small child,  a granddaughter, in the background saying in a cheerful voice, 'Goodnight Grandma'."

"We smiled, we cried and we promised she wouldn’t be alone. We promised we would be there with her. We promised we’d hold her."

This has become a reality for many losing family members in long-term care homes over the past few months.

Last week, Premier Doug Ford announced stricter rules around long-term care and retirement homes, enhanced health and safety measures to help curb the spread of the virus which has infiltrated 121 long-term care facilities across the province. 

Some of the policies include aggressive testing of staff and residents, supplying more PPE for workers, and deploying hospital staff to facilities for support. 

Bradford Valley Care Community has now tested all of its residents and staff, although some are still waiting on results. Staff from Southlake Regional Health Centre are assisting with the outbreak.

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Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is the Editor for BradfordToday and InnisfilToday. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats.
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