WARNING: This story contains graphic details.
CALGARY – Disturbing allegations of neglect are emerging from a long-term care home in Calgary which was hit by a deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
And now one man fears new legislation could have a chilling effect on abuse stories like his from being heard.
“When it did become lockdown, who knows what went on behind those closed doors,” Rob Wind told CityNews.
He says his father, Adrian, who was in the McKenzie Towne Care Centre, was neglected by staff, which persisted months after a deadly COVID-19 outbreak killed more than 20 residents and infected dozens of staff and others.
“My sister brought her own mop and pail to clean because you have to, right? Showering once or twice a week for these people, and some of these people are in diapers. They need to be changed and showered every day. We have to start off with hygiene, just like with COVID, we’ve got to wash our hands,” Wind said.
Wind says there were sleepless nights where he’d lay awake thinking about his father at the home.
In March 2020, a resident at the home was the first Calgarian to die from COVID-19. And by the time a class-action lawsuit was filed later that spring, a total of 21 deaths and 62 resident cases were recorded.
Wind’s 91-year-old father survived–at least for a couple of months.
“I was at a loss for words. He lost 30 pounds, he lost his teeth,” Wind recalled.
A picture (above) taken in June 2020 through Adrian’s window shows a drastic weight loss and long nails. This photo was taken a week before Adrian died.
Wind compares it to this photo (above) taken in February.
Adrian died on June 9. Wind says he still hasn’t been told how his father died.
On April 22, Alberta introduced a bill that would give legal protection to care home workers facing lawsuits over COVID-19.
Wind joined the $25-million lawsuit against operator Revera last year and he worries the bill will stop him and other families from advocating for their loved ones.
“He loved Hockey Night in Canada, Saturdays. He didn’t care too much for Don Cherry,” Wind said, remembering his dad.
“He was always my best pal. I could lean shoulders with him, we thought a lot. You know he had a good life, but he just didn’t deserve to go the way he did.”
Adrian was a soccer player from Holland and someone who would give his last dollar to help others, according to his family.
“It approaches truly, truly reckless behaviour. So, they’re saying if whatever it is that the care home did is not that bad, then you shouldn’t be allowed to hold them to account,” explained Matthew Farrell, a partner at Guardian Law Group.
Guardian Law Group filed the application and its lawyers argue gross negligence is a higher bar to reach.
“So, there are going to be some extreme cases where the bill won’t block us from holding people to account, but aside from those rare instances, it blocks accountability, that’s all that it does. So, take all legitimate claims and bar all but the most egregious, so like nine out of 10 legitimate claimants are out of luck,” said Farrell.
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- AHS, independent expert to report on McKenzie Towne care home deaths
- Lack of COVID-19 support at Calgary long-term care home has daughter worried she might lose her mother
Revera says it can’t discuss the details of any specific case.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the Wind family, as well as to all the families and friends of residents affected by COVID-19. We cannot discuss the details of Mr. Wind’s care out of respect for privacy legislation,” reads a statement to CityNews.
“Revera respects the court process and we will respond to the proposed legal action at the appropriate time and through proper legal channels.”
“This bill that they introduced, is going to take another voice away from us, and that’s the only choice they give us to make things right, and what when on in these places was not right,” said Wind.
CityNews reached out for comment from the United Conservative Party, but has not heard back.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.