Families sue Revera, health authority after COVID-19 deaths at Winnipeg care home

The families of two Winnipeggers who died from COVID-19 during an outbreak at Maples Long Term Care Home last year are now suing Revera, the company that owns the home, and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

The statement of claim filed Monday alleges Revera and the WRHA caused or contributed to the deaths of Manuel Calisto, 88, and 99-year-old Ethel Lewsey.

“Maples suffered significant and critical staff shortages and was unable to ensure the basic care needs of the residents were met and was unable to ensure the safety of the residents and control or limit the spread of COVID-19 amongst the residents and staff,” the claim states.

An outbreak declared Oct. 20, 2020, lasted until Jan. 12, 2021.

During that time, 74 staff members and 157 residents tested positive for COVID-19. Fifty-six residents died after contracting the virus.

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Read the statement of claim here:

A provincial investigation of Maples got underway in November 2020 after a deadly weekend when multiple ambulances were dispatched to treat residents who were severely dehydrated and in need of extra care. Eight of them died within 48 hours.

The incident also prompted an apology from Revera after “inaccurate” information regarding staffing levels that weekend was disclosed to health authorities, the health minister and the public.

Read more: Province to implement all recommendations in Maples care home review

The 74-page review found pandemic plans were in place, but the care home was unprepared for the staff reductions once employees became exposed to the virus and had to self-isolate.

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The lawsuit alleges Revera failed to provide medical and nursing care and failed to properly distance residents, which could have helped to contain the virus and limit its spread.

Click to play video: 'WRHA says Revera gave ‘less than accurate’ staffing data for Friday crisis at Maples PCH' WRHA says Revera gave ‘less than accurate’ staffing data for Friday crisis at Maples PCH

WRHA says Revera gave ‘less than accurate’ staffing data for Friday crisis at Maples PCH – Nov 9, 2020

It also claims the company failed to ensure there were adequate staffing levels at the home.

“The gross lack of staffing caused by the inactions of the Revera defendants and the WRHA as described herein, residents were left dehydrated and malnourished and vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, and therefore suffered greatly as a result,” the lawsuit claims.

The WRHA provides funding to Revera and the suit alleges the health authority failed to conduct adequate inspections or assessments, failed to identify concerns regarding staffing levels and failed to ensure the safety and well-being of the residents.

The WRHA declined to comment as the matter is now before the court.

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Revera said it respects the court process and ‘will respond to the proposed legal action at the appropriate time and through proper legal channels.’

“We extend our deepest sympathies to all the families and friends of residents affected by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic,” Revera communications director Larry Roberts added.

Calisto’s daughter, Eddie Calisto-Tavares, and Lewsey’s son, Lawrence, are seeking both aggravated and punitive damages of an unspecified amount.

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