Update: Barbara Paquette’s family learned late Friday afternoon that her body had been transferred to a funeral home. Read about their ordeal below.
“Where’s our mom? Is she in a refrigerated truck? A crematorium?” Wendy Paquette says that not knowing the answer prevents her from sleeping.
A full week after the death of COVID-19, his mother, Barbara Paquette, at the long-term care facility at LaSalle Hospital in Montreal, Paquette’s family still has no idea where to stay. finds his body.
“It’s nightmarish. I can’t get the truck’s vision out of my head.”
The LaSalle Hospital residence is one of the CHSLDs – the acronym by which long-term care homes are known in Quebec – listed as being in a critical situation, with more than 50% of its residents having a test positive for COVID-19.
As of April 16, 66 residents of the 115-bed facility have confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 15 others have died.
Guillaume Bérubé, spokesperson for the region’s health agency, the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, confirmed that refrigerated trucks had been installed outside LaSalle hospitals, Douglas and Lakeshore.
“If there is a lack of space in the morgue, the refrigerated truck is an extension of the morgue outside the hospital,” he said.
He would not confirm whether the trucks are currently used to store bodies.
At Friday’s daily briefing, Health Minister Danielle McCann said the ministry will review Paquette’s situation.
“What we have emphasized from the start is the importance of communicating with families, especially to find out where their loved ones are,” she said. “We need to provide support – moral support – to families who are going through what they are going through.”
No chance to say goodbye
Barbara Paquette had been a resident of the LaSalle hospital residence since 2018. She had Alzheimer’s and needed 24-hour care.
Wendy Paquette said that apart from her mother’s cognitive decline, the 84-year-old woman was in excellent physical health with no other underlying conditions.
Staff called Paquette on March 30 to let her know that her mother had tested positive for COVID-19.
“We really felt that she was in good health, and she could fight him naturally,” said Paquette.
However, the next time the staff called, it was to tell the family to prepare to say goodbye.
Paquette explained that the procedures necessary to obtain authorization to go to his mother’s bedside were explained to him. Even with all the personal protective equipment, the staff informed Paquette that she herself had an 80% chance of contracting the coronavirus.
“We said,” Maybe we could FaceTime, “and again, we were disheartened about it,” said Paquette.
“It has been described to us as” Do you really want to see it in this state? “And [we were] said she was not lucid. “
Finally, Paquette and her family did not see her in person or via FaceTime.
Barbara Paquette died on April 9.
Impossible to “close”
Over the next eight days, Paquette said the family hadn’t heard a word about his mother’s fate.
“We phone, phone and try to communicate with people, but they don’t drop out,” said Paquette.
“We need information to move forward with the family – for closure.”
Bérubé said that the normal procedure is to inform the family immediately after a death and ask if they have a contract with a funeral home, before the body is transferred to the morgue.
The hospital or funeral home administration then calls the family to make other arrangements.
However, Paquette said that when staff called to inform them of their mother’s death, they were told that Health Canada would be the one to issue the death certificate and that the family would be contacted.
In the confusion surrounding this pandemic, it now seems that the family is misunderstood or badly informed by the person who called them.
“We don’t have a funeral home. We don’t have a death certificate. We don’t have leftovers!” Said Paquette.
“It’s very disturbing for us to even imagine that she is somewhere in a waiting refrigerated truck. We don’t like to think of it like that, but it may very well be the reality.”