Grant Families of Seniors in CHSLDs & RPAs the right to bring them home during COVID-19

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April 26, 2020

The Honourable Mr. David Lametti, MP

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Dear Honourable Lametti,

Please accept this letter in your capacity as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada in an effort to help us address and express our concerns over the way our seniors are being treated during our current COVID-19 pandemic

Notwithstanding the well-known statistics that seniors have been and continue to be the most affected of our population, with significant reported deaths, we are also concerned in the way that this important sector of our population has been treated.  Many residences have been on lockdown for more than the forty days.  This means no visits, little contact with the outside world, and for many, no required hygiene or medical assistance and care.

We are all indebted to the World Health Organization, the public health officials, and especially the healthcare providers..  However, we cannot help but feel desperate and helpless with the toll that the propagation of this deadly virus has taken on the health of our population, namely the elderly, not to mention the economy and our world activity as a whole.

As the rate of infections continue to rise and the death toll increases every day, many of our citizens are grappling with the possibility of taking their parents out of the CHSLDs and RPAs and caring for them in their respective homes in order to provide them with better care and help shelter them from what seems to have become breeding grounds for this virus.   Notwithstanding all of these efforts of concerned family members, we are unable to bring our loved ones home because of the restrictions implemented by the MSSS (Ministère de la Santé et Services sociaux)) as outlined in their letter of April 5, 2020 to the Chief Executives, Presidents and Directors Generals of Integrated Centers and University Health and Social Services, whereby it stipulated that “if an outbreak of COVID-19 is present in the CHSLD or the RPA, relatives are prohibited from picking up a resident, whether or not he/she has symptoms. The risk of spread is too high”.  To this we ask “for whom is it too high?”.  For the residents or for the population at large?  If it is for the former, we say, leaving the seniors in an infected enclosed residence, regardless of the high precautions taken, seems not to be effective.  In our opinion, this is no different than containing the cruise travellers on cruise ships when they were faced with cases of COVID-19.  And we all know that rather than contain the virus, it seems to have propagated it, similar to what we see in a petrie dish.  One RPA alone went from 4 cases to 17 cases in 2 weeks all while they were reassuringly “taking the necessary precautions.”  When asked how this happens, we were told that it is because some residents are required to leave the premises for medical examinations and other necessary interventions and upon their return they may be bringing back COVID-19.  If this is indeed true why would it not seem a better solution to be able to take residents out of CHSLDs and RPAs and bring them home to live with us, a viable and feasible solution – a solution that might save lives rather than end lives?

This petition is to ask that this restriction be re-examined in light of the implications on both the physical and mental health it is having on the seniors and their families..  We have brilliant scientists and researchers at work on this pandemic with a mission and a thrust to contain this virus in any way possible.  Furthermore, the healthcare sector is asking everyone to do their part in helping “flatten the curve” and “stop the propagation” of this deadly virus.  We, the children of the seniors in CHSLDs and RPAs, are here at the frontlines waiting with bated breath to help save our loved ones.  Why can we not bring them home in our care?  The seniors have felt trapped, imprisoned, and abandoned, some of whom have become severely depressed and ceased to eat because they have lost their will to live and eventually succumbed not to COVID-19 but to living in desperate times. Many of us have stood by the sidelines delivering food and toiletries and making numerous calls day and night trying to appease the anxiety of our mothers, fathers, grandparents etc in an effort to let them hold on long enough for this coronavirus to end its deadly toll on everyone only to hear tragic stories of neglect, people dying alone, abandoned and uncared for rather than victorious stories .  For some, these tragic stories are not only stories they see or read about in the news, but stories that are happening within their own families.  We have stood by watching our friends and family have to bury their loved ones, some of us have had to bury our own loved ones.  It is time to take a closer look at our seniors who have long been neglected and offer them a glimmer of hope rather than continued despair.

We ask, in the name of our seniors, to allow us to help them in whatever way we can, by giving us the ability to exercise our rights (and the rights of seniors) to take our loved ones home from seniors’ residences in an effort to provide a better and brighter outcome for them.

Sincerely,

Luvana & Anna Di Francesco