Manitoba

Residents crying out from thirst and a guard reduced to tears: a daughter's account inside Maples care home

Eddie Calisto-Tavares calls it “that terrible Friday”: the evening she heard residents crying out for water, the evening she knew her father’s nurse was alone on the floor, the evening unbeknownst to her, paramedics and ambulances were scrambled to the Maples Long Term Care Home to treat a dozen residents in distress on the floor above where her father lived.

‘I do believe that people starved and I do believe that people went thirsty,’ said Eddie Calisto-Tavares

Calisto-Tavares took a photo of herself and her father, Manuel Calisto, in the Maples Long Term Care Home earlier this year. Manuel Calisto died on Nov. 11. (Submitted by Eddie Calisto-Tavares )

Eddie Calisto-Tavares calls it "that terrible Friday": the evening she heard residents crying out for water, the evening she knew her father's nurse was alone on the floor, the evening unbeknownst to her, paramedics and ambulances were scrambled to the Maples Long Term Care Home to treat a dozen residents in distress on the floor above where her father lived. 

Before the night was out, two residents died, three were taken to hospital and paramedics spent hours in the home administering intravenous fluids to dehydrated residents while giving food and water to others. 

Calisto-Tavares did what she could to help the nurse she says was alone in her dad's area that evening. 

She changed out her PPE and brought two glasses of water to her father's neighbours who were pleading for a drink while the nurse gave medication to her ailing dad.

"I do believe that people starved and I do believe that people went thirsty because ... there was no one around to hear them cry out.… There were no people to help," said Calisto-Tavares.

The Maples Long Term Care Home has overtaken Parkview Place as the site of the province's deadliest outbreak. Thirty-two residents have died since an outbreak was declared on Oct. 23, Parkview Place now counts 25 deaths. Both homes are owned by Revera, a for-profit company based in Ontario.

Calisto-Tavares received special permission to enter the home during lockdown by agreeing to stay in a hotel and avoiding all contact with people on the outside. She would leave the home for two or three hours at a time to eat and rest while her father was sleeping.

She tried to hold back tears as she recounted another night in the home, when she could hear a woman living with dementia, who she thought might have a fever, crying and saying, "I'm on fire, I'm on fire."

All Calisto-Tavares could do is say the woman's name repeatedly to reassure her.

"And I just kept saying, 'Somebody coming, somebody is coming. You're going to be OK,'" she said. 

Winnipeg police officers were seen leaving Maples Long Term Care Home on Saturday night. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Calisto-Tavares spent just over a week and a half in the locked-down home caring for her 88-year-old father, Manuel Calisto, before he died on Remembrance Day.

She felt she could not leave him alone because he had dementia and did not speak English. She says he lost 10 pounds during the first lockdown in March.

"I found my dad soiled on the floor several times," said Calisto-Tavares.

A picture of Calisto-Tavares celebrating her birthday with her father in 2017. (Submitted by Eddie Calisto-Tavares)

Even when she was at the home to watch over her dad, help was not available. She says she activated the call bell when he started to fall out of his bed and she did not have the strength to place him back in.

She says she waited an hour and a half for staff to come. 

"It wasn't because people didn't care, it was because there were no people there to care," said Calisto-Tavares. 

'There is no excuse'

Calisto-Tavares said she was often mistaken for staff by families and even by other workers at the home. 

One night, a security guard approached her in tears, saying he needed to go outside to breathe but he couldn't because there was nobody there.

She responded, "I'm not a nurse, I'm a daughter. And I know how you feel because I can't breathe, but I can't leave because there's nobody here," said Calisto-Tavares.

It wasn't the only time staff were reduced to tears. She said she had seen staff crying in the parking lot after telling family members their loved ones had died.

Calisto-Tavares says she is not done fighting to make sure the elderly are cared for. 

"I'm going to bury my dad on Tuesday. And then I am going to take all the energy that I have and I am going to focus on this cause because yes, he was 88 years old. Yes, he had dementia, but he should have not died the way he did."

Calisto-Tavares said the province should have learned from Quebec and Ontario and what happened in care homes there during the first wave of the pandemic.

"There is no excuse," she said.

She said she advocated for the Red Cross to come in at the end of October. The humanitarian aid group will arrive at the home Saturday. 

"There was no staff. There were people in terrible need of help and they did not get it," she said.

"Help should have come two weeks ago. Too little, too late."

now