Winnipeg woman reflects on COVID-19 outbreak, death of her father one year ago

One year after her father died of COVID-19 in a personal care home, one Winnipeg woman has left the country to grieve, while still demanding change.

Eddie Calisto-Tavares lost her father, Miguel Calisto, on Nov. 11, 2020, near the beginning of a devastating COVID-19 outbreak at Maples Personal Care Home.

She’s currently in her father’s hometown of São Miguel, Portugal, to mark the one year anniversary of his passing.

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After a year of stress, she wanted to allow herself some time to finally grieve, while enjoying some of the food and attractions her father loved back home.

“I was going to have the things that my dad loved to eat, I was going to look at the lands and the grapes and the olives and just allow myself to feel, to let go some of my fear of some of the decisions that I had made,” Calisto-Tavares said.

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At the time of the outbreak, Calisto-Tavares agreed to isolate and was granted access to the home to help care for her dad.

She was there through the worst of it.

The outbreak at the personal care home was first declared on Oct. 20 and ultimately claimed 56 lives over nearly three months.

“I was in such auto mode. I didn’t allow myself to feel and when I think about it now, I don’t know how I got through it,” Calisto-Tavares said.

“My mental health was at stake because I got to a point that I needed to feel, I need to actually say, ‘Wow, that happened.’”

Eddie Calisto-Tavares and her father, Miguel Calisto.
Eddie Calisto-Tavares and her father, Miguel Calisto.

After her father died, she continued to ask questions about whether residents were receiving adequate care.

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“There’s still people in these personal care homes that don’t have the care that they need,” she said.

Calisto-Tavares is leading a group called Families Voices, a task force pushing the Manitoba government for more staff and better care in homes across the province.

Read more: Embattled Manitoba care home up to standards, accepting new residents, province says

To this day, she said, no one is listening.

“We are not stopping until we do have the changes that are needed,” she said.

In September, the province said Maples was permitted to accept new residents.

As part of the approved admissions plan, the facility is required to regularly report to the province and the Winnipeg Health Authority on the status of new admissions, and its licence will remain under review.

Provincial officials were to continue both scheduled and unscheduled reviews of the facility to make sure it meets provincial standards and that residents are receiving quality care.

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New vaccine mandate coming for family caregivers in Manitoba care homes

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