'We will learn from this': 9 more Northwood residents die from COVID-19 in just 3 days
HALIFAX -- In the last three days, nine more residents have died from COVID-19 at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax.
"Any doctor can tell you, this is a terrible situation, to cram in almost 500 seniors into a tower and expect it to be OK when there's a disease going through,” said Kate Kelly, whose brother lives at Northwood.
Kelly says her brother has tested negative for the virus, but 220 other residents have been infected, and she has concerns with how the outbreak was handled.
"It's not any fault of the front-line workers. The caregivers couldn't be better,” said Kelly.
“They are so caring with everyone. They're overworked and they’re certainly underpaid and they're just doing the best they can do."
Thirty-two of the 38 deaths linked to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nova Scotia have happened at Northwood, which is the largest facility of its kind east of Montreal.
"I'm concerned. I'm concerned for the residents, I'm concerned for the staff,” said Tim Houston, MLA and leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party.
With the number of deaths at Northwood, Houston says people have questions they want answered.
"With what's happened there, with Northwood becoming the epicentre for COVID in Nova Scotia, certainly we need to learn any lessons that we can learn, so whatever that format looks like, whatever takes place, the questions have to be answered and we have to make sure we learn from this,” said Houston.
When asked if there would be a review into how the pandemic was handled at Northwood, spokesperson Murray Stenton said:
"The entire healthcare system is experiencing some real challenges, and we know there will be key learnings from this that will help us in future. We will learn from this. I expect there will be changes."
“We know right now there is a great deal of pain,” said Stenton in a statement.” We understand that and we share that with our community and the families that have lost loved ones.”
As the death toll rises, Wagner’s Law Firm says it has been getting calls from families who have lost someone at the facility.
"At this time, we are not contemplating bringing an action against Northwood,” said lawyer Kate Boyle.
"We feel that this is more classically a situation where the government could provide some kind of compensation, non-adversarial program to address the harms that were caused by inadequate policies and protections for Northwood with residents."
While a class-action lawsuit isn’t being considered at this time, Boyle says there are other mechanisms that could provide families with some answers.
"While a full-blown public inquiry may not be necessary, a look into and an investigation into the policies and the procedures and what should be done, what should have been done, that can all be handled in a public way that's non-adversarial,” she said.
“So, it's not suing, it's more an inquisitive manner to how can we prevent this in the future?”